The rights of children to succeed to a deceased ancestor's property interests in Virginia are treated in some fifteen separate sections of the Virgina Code. The first of these sections was contained in Virginia's original code of descent and distribution which was enacted in October, 1785, and the last of these sections was enacted by the 1974 session of the General Assembly. When one considers that these fifteen sections were enacted over a period of 189 years, as the result of legislation introduced by various individuals who were at any given time focusing on a particular portion of this larger problem area without always taking into account the "spin-off' effect that their particular legislation might have on all of the other sections dealing with the succession rights of children, it is not surprising to find that there is a certain amount of gap, overlap, inconsistency and ambiguity that plagues today's practitioner who is trying to determine the rights of a specific child in a number of instances, and that consequences generally regarded as improper and unjust, from the child's standpoint, are too often required by the present state of the law. Moreover, a recent decision from the United States Supreme Court has made it quite clear that at least two of these fifteen sections are unconstitutional and this, of course, creates an even larger gap in Virginia law than existed before.
J. R. Johnson,
Inheritance Rights of Children in Virginia,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol12/iss2/2