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In Virginia, the probate process is handled by the court in the county where the testator (the person who created the will) lived when they died. As of December 2010, probate in Virginia is generally only required when an estate’s assets – minus those that pass directly to a beneficiary, such as life insurance and real estate with rights of survivorship – total more than $5,000.
Step 1 – Call the Circuit Court Clerk
Call the circuit court clerk in the appropriate county and make an appointment to meet with him. Take the original will and a certified copy of the birth certificate with you. When you meet with the clerk, you must give him an estimate of the state’s value and pay a probate tax.
Step 2 – Take Oath as Executor (-trix) and Post Bond
Take an oath of office as executor of the estate and post a bond. If you are not the only beneficiary of the will or the testator hasn’t waived this requirement, the bond must equal to the value of the estate to insure against any wrongdoing on your part. The clerk will give you a certificate of qualification so you may act on the estate’s behalf.
Step 3 – Contact Beneficiaries and Heirs
Contact all beneficiaries and heirs, or those closely related to the testator who would have inherited if he died without a will. You must advise them that the will is in probate and that you have been appointed as executor. You have 30 days to do this.
Step 4 – Secure the Testator’s Property and Assets
Secure the testator’s property and all assets. Contact insurance companies, employer, Social Security, and Veteran’s Affairs, if applicable. This is to arrange any payments due the estate. Within four months you must submit a list of all assets, complete with their value. This is not necessary if the total value of the estate is less than $15,000.
Step 5 – Determine if Taxes or Money Owed
Determine if the testator owed anyone money and confer with an accountant to found out if estate taxes are due.
Step 6 – Distribute the Remaining Assets
Distribute the remaining assets of the estate to the testator’s beneficiaries in the will.
Experienced Estate and Will Attorneys | Kamerow Law Firm
If you have any questions about Virginia’s probate process, or are in need of legal advice or representation please contact Kamerow Law Firm or call 703-370-8088.