Probate & Estate Administration

When your loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. If the assets of the deceased were owned through a well drafted and properly funded living trust, it is likely that no court-managed administration is necessary, though the successor trustee needs to administer the distribution of the deceased’s assets. The length of time needed to complete the probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the local rules and schedule of the probate court.

This Court managed process is supervised by the Commissioner of Accounts. The judges of each judicial circuit appoint one or more Commissioners of Accounts to provide “general supervision of all fiduciaries admitted to qualify in the court or before the clerk of the circuit court and shall make all ex parte settlements of the fiduciaries’ accounts.” Virginia Code § 64.2-1200.

The following may be needed to help you qualify on an estate:
An appointment with the probate clerk to qualify on your loved one’s estate. Some counties require a form to be completed prior to the appointment. A bond may be required as well. If the clerk doesn’t appoint someone, or there is a dispute, then a petition must be filed with the circuit court.

Notice to heirs under the will or to the heirs at law in the event there is no will.

Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Executor/Administrator.

Sale of estate assets.

Payment of estate taxes, if applicable.

Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors. A debts and demands hearing may be needed to determine if which debts should be paid, or if the estate is insolvent.

Final distribution of assets to heirs.