West Virginia: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant state law for West Virginia. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution

February 2, 2021

In the U.S, medical and estate law differs from state to state. To thrive well in the Mountain State, you need to be aware of all the most important laws and the specific forms you need to create a will, trust, and outline your medical wishes.

We’ve created this comprehensive guide to every document you need to plan and organize your estate in West Virginia for you and your family.

Essential West Virginia Medical State Laws & Forms

How to Get Your Medical Records in West Virginia 

Doctors and other healthcare providers in West Virginia are required to retain medical records for at least five years after the last treatment date. Some Medicare patient records are must be kept for at least 10 years. 

You can also request your medical records from any licensed or registered health care provider and receive those records within no more than thirty days from the date of the request, as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), must be capable enough to provide a copy of their medical records.

Learn more about your rights when it comes to medical records

West Virginia Advance Directive Forms & Laws

An advance directive provides a precise and legally-enforceable way for a person to outline their medical desires if they become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. In West Virginia, any competent adult can execute a living will or medical power of attorney at any time.  The West Virginia Advance Directive also specifies that you sign the forms in the presence of two or more witnesses not less than eighteen years.

The three most common advance directive forms include:

  • Living Will. This outlines your medical wishes, including preferred medications, procedures, and life support services you want or don't want to use
  • Medical Power of Attorney. This document designates someone (usually only one person) to make medical and end-of-life decisions on your behalf. Doctors typically only confer with spouses and close relatives, so if you want someone else to make important decisions, you have to designate them here
  • Do Not Resuscitate Order. Also known as DNR Order; a Do Not Resuscitate Order gives doctors and medical personnel the order not to perform cardiac, pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to revitalize you

Download both the health care directive and the durable power of attorney for health care here.

How to Become an Organ Donor in West Virginia Organ

You can become an organ donor in West Virginia at Donate Life or when renewing your driver's license or ID Card. In West Virginia, a parent or guardian will decide on organ, tissue, and eye donation if a child about 17 years old or younger dies.

Essential West Virginia Legal and Estate Planning Documents & Forms

How to Create a Will in West Virginia

It’s actually fairly simple to create a legally binding will in West Virginia. You don’t even need a lawyer (although it’s never a bad idea).

  • You must be at least 18 years old 
  • You must be “of sound mind” Under West Virginia's laws, "sound mind" means that you have not been found legally incompetent in a previous court proceeding
  • Two witnesses are required, and they must sign the document in the presence of the testators
  • Lastly, the testator must sign the will

West Virginia Trust Laws 

You also have numerous legal instruments at your disposal to safeguard your properties for your loved ones while planning your estate. A living trust, which many estate-planning experts consider to be a more iron-clad technique than writing a will, is one such instrument.

The greatest benefit of having a living trust is that your relatives will avoid the delay and cost of probate court proceedings after your death.

West Virginia does not make use of the Uniform Probate Code, which simplifies probate, so it might be a great idea to create a living trust to avoid the complicated process of probate in West Virginia. For small estates, West Virginia has a simpler probate process. Small estates in West Virginia are:

  • Estates worth below $100,000, except real estate
  • Estates of which the primary beneficiary of the estate is the personal representative.

West Virginia Estate & Inheritance Taxes

Living trusts do not exempt the land from property tax, but few individuals need to think about this. There is also no estate tax in West Virginia, and the federal estate tax only applies to properties worth more than $5 million.

Using a specially established QTIP trust (also known as a marital or AB trust) that transfers properties from the deceased to the surviving spouse, the estate tax may be avoided. 

Check out all you need to know about a living trust in West Virginia. Moreover, to create a living trust in West Virginia, you can click here.

Learn more about the biggest differences between a will and a trust

West Virginia Probate and Tax Laws

Probate is the formal process for the settlement of an estate of a deceased person, including the transfer to the proper beneficiaries of the estate's assets and property. Probate also requires settling any outstanding debts and taxes that might exist on the assets.

In West Virginia, you have 30 days to submit a legal will before the probate process begins.

West Virginia Digital Estate Planning Laws

Your social media profiles, personal emails, online image gallery, mobile banking accounts, websites, digital music, computer-based details, and flash drives are part of your digital assets. In reality, the need for digital estate planning is becoming so widespread that many states, including West Virginia, have adopted uniform laws governing digital estate rights.

Digital estate laws like SB 102 Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act,  provide that an individual under the jurisdiction of a lawyer may exercise control over the content of electronic communications sent or received by the principal and specifies a protocol for the custodian's disclosure of digital assets.

You can essentially outline the design and control your digital estate plan, and to give consent to an executor to access your digital assets.

West Virginia Estate and Inheritance Tax Laws and Rates

West Virginia does not have a state estate tax or inheritance tax. That means you will not have to pay inheritance tax on the inherited property value in West Virginia if you inherit property, either real property, personal property, or intangible property such as financial accounts or cash. However, citizens of West Virginia may have to pay a federal estate tax on an inheritance.

How to Get a Death Certificate in West Virginia?

Next of kin or individuals with a legal right can obtain certified copies of death certificates of people who died within West Virginia's boundaries. Death certificates are provided by the West Virginia Vital Registry Office for a non-refundable $12 search fee, which also enables you to get one approved duplicate of the death certificate.

The search fee covers a three-year search covering the specified year, the year before and the year after the specified year. A letter informing you of the person's inability to find a record will be returned if no record is found. For each additional copy, there is a fee of $12

Print out this death certificate application form to request copies of a death certificate and send it along with the required fee to: 

Vital Registration
Room 165
350 Capitol Street
Charleston, WV 25301-3701

How to Organize Your Most Important Documents

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