Probate often invokes thoughts of a long, drawn-out, intimidating, and expensive legal process. However, it does not have to be. Probate is the legal process of getting the court to identify and validate a document as the last will and testament of a deceased individual. It involves conducting an comprehensive inventory of the deceased individualâs property, having that property properly evaluated and appraised, using the property to pay off liabilities to private and governmental entities (including taxes), and distributing the remainder of the property as the will or state law provides. This typically involves interpreting documents and making appearances before a court through the legal process.
If you are an executor or a family member facing a probate issue, you should consult with an experienced estate and probate attorney. The Cedar Law Firm has years of experience in dealing with estate and probate issues in the Virginia Beach area, including Norfolk and Chesapeake, and can advise you on your potential legal options.
Probate Procedures for Wills in Virginia
The probate_in_virginia probate process in Virginia takes place after the death of the property owner. There is no set time frame for when a will must be probated or estate administration be started. If there is a will, the named executor should bring the will to the Clerkâs Office of the Virginia Circuit court in the local jurisdiction, and the probate process is usually handled by the circuit court clerk or a deputy clerk. Additionally, the executor should know all of the assets owned by the deceased and, as accurately as possible, the value of the assets. Additionally, a copy of the death certificate should be provided to the court.
The executor or estate administrator who is named in the will is usually the one appointed by the court. However, if the will does not name an executor, or the named individual refuses to serve or fails to act in that capacity, alternates or beneficiaries will likely be appointed. The individual appointed takes an oath that he or she will perform the duties required and provide bond in an amount at least equal to the value of the state.
Probate Procedures Where There is No Will
If the deceased individual did not leave a will, then the clerk may appoint an administrator within thirty days of death to an heir or his or her designee. If there is more than one heir, then all the heirs may designate an administrator. In these cases, Virginia statute determines who the heirs are and who receives the property in cases where there is no will. Under the statute, property passes as follows:
- To the surviving spouse, unless survived by children or their descendants, one or more of whom are not children or their descendants of the surviving spouse, in which case, two-thirds of the estate descends and passes to the children and their descendants, and one-third of the estate descends and passes to the surviving spouse;
- If there is no surviving spouse, then to the children and their descendants;
- If there is none of the above, then to the parents, or to the surviving parent;
- If there is none of the above, then to the brothers and sisters, and their descendants;
- If there is none of the above, then one-half of the estate descends and passes to the paternal kindred and one-half descends and passes to the maternal kindred as indicated below:
- To the grandparents, or to the surviving grandparent;
- If there is none of the above, then to the uncles and aunts, and their descendants;
- If there is none of the above, then to the great-grandparents;
- If there is none of the above, then to the brothers and sisters of the grandparents, and their descendants;
- And so on, in other cases, without end, passing to the nearest lineal ancestors and their descendants.
The Cedar Law Firm in Virginia Beach is a dedicated law firm focused on creating sustainable legal solutions for its clients. We have years of experience in estate planning, administration, and probate in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake. If you have a probate matter, we can provide you with expert legal counsel and help you protect your rights. You may reach us by calling (757) 963-7788 or by completing our online contact form.