Probate & Estate Administration

Probate Process In Virginia when the Decedent had a Will

When your loved one passes away, and you have been named as executor or executrix, you may choose to submit the will for probate and qualify as the executor/executrix. Prior to submitting the will, the Estate Law Center, PLLC, encourages you to seek legal advice.

To probate an estate in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you must go to the circuit court of the county in which the decedent resided at the time of death, and request an appointment for qualification. If the decedent died in a nursing home or similar institution, then that person's residence is presumed to be where he or she resided prior to becoming a patient in such home.

Settlement Of An Estate In Virginia When No Will Exists

An Estate Administrator refers to the person who qualifies to manage and settle an estate when a decedent passes without a will (intestate) and his assets were either not funded into a trust, owned jointly with rights of survivorship, lacked a transfer on death directive, or designated beneficiary.

When an individual qualifies as an Estate Administrator with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the jurisdiction in which the decedent resided in the Commonwealth of Virginia, they are responsible for settling the estate.

Qualification For An Executor Or An Estate Administrator

If the decedent died with a will in Virginia, bring the following with you to your appointment with the probate office: the original will and the self-proving affidavit, a certified copy of the death certificate, an estimate of the approximate dollar value of the assets passing through probate, the names and addresses of heirs at law, valid photo identification, and cash or check to pay the fees.

If the decedent dies without a will in Virginia - intestate, bring the following with you to your appointment with the probate office as you seek appointment as the estate administrator: a certified copy of the death certificate, an estimate of the approximate dollar value of the assets passing through probate, the names and addresses of heirs at law, valid photo identification, and cash or check to pay the fees.

Management And Distribution Of The Assets

The following is a brief outline of the steps the executor/executrix or estate administrator must take once the certificate of qualification is awarded. It is not comprehensive, nor is it intended to be case specific.

The Estate Law Center encourages individuals considering taking on the responsibilities of a fiduciary to seek legal counsel prior to taking action.

Care must be given to timeframes, attention to detail, and understanding the requirements of the Code of Virginia:

(1) Take control of the estate assets.

(2) Invest and preserve the property.

(3) Obtain an FEIN.

(4) Provide notice to the heirs and law and the beneficiaries under the will.

(5) Keep accurate and detailed records.

(6) Submit the Inventory to the Commissioner of Accounts for approval.

(7) Submit Annual Accountings to the Commissioner of Accounts.

8) Consider requesting a Debts and Demands Hearing.

(9) Make timely tax filings.

(10) Prior to making any distributions, familiarize yourself with the order of distribution as set forth within the Code of Virginia.

Commissioner Of Accounts

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Commissioner of Accounts is appointed by the Circuit Court to provide general supervision of fiduciaries. In addition to the responsibility to review, audit, and approve inventories and accounts relating to estates, trusts, guardianships, and conservatorships, commissioners are a wealth of insight and knowledge. The Commonwealth is very fortunate to have some excellent Commissioners of Accounts.