Case Study

     In Dagvadorj v. Algabi, Mark Gabi used an online template to create his will without consulting an attorney, which is never a good idea. The will named his brother, Mohamad Algabi, as the executor of Gabi’s estate. When Gabi died, he was survived by his wife Sarangerel Dagvadorj and his two kids from a prior marriage. Algabi sued for control of the administration of Gabi’s estate and asserted the fact that he was listed as his brother’s estate’s sole beneficiary.

      The court noted that the will itself failed to clearly identify who Gabi actually intended the beneficiaries of his estate to be. Some parts of the will seemed to imply that Gabi wanted Algabi to have his entire estate after he passed, whereas other parts of the will seemed to imply that his wife and two kids were supposed to receive at least some portion of his estate. Upon review, the Virginia Appellate Court determined that further proceedings were needed to resolve this ambiguity, and that merely deferring to Algabi the estate’s listed administrator would not be sufficient to resolve this issue.


     To avoid writing an ambiguous will, we recommend that you work with an experienced attorney, clearly identify your beneficiaries, provide detailed instructions for the distribution of your assets, and update your will regularly to reflect changes in your circumstances. Writing a will without an attorney and using online resources is a misguided approach that can lead to confusion, errors, and disputes among family members.

     The attorneys at Smith Strong have extensive experience in creating wills that are tailored to the individual needs and circumstances of our clients. We can help ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are protected after your passing. If you would like assistance drafting your will, please call one of our offices at 804-325-1245 (Richmond) or 757-941-4298 (Williamsburg) to discuss how our attorneys can be of assistance.

     We also offer a free estate planning workshop, live and online each month. To sign up, visit


Special Thanks to Brayden Meadows for his assistance with this article.

H. Van Smith
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Trusted Virginia Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg