Do I Have to Go to Probate in Virginia?

When someone passes away, there are several actions that must be fulfilled to administer and close out that person’s estate. One of those actions is determining whether or not the probate process is necessary.

Probate is a legal term defined as the formal court process of administering the estate of the deceased person (“decedent”). Families are often obligated to take care of the decedent’s financial and legal responsibilities even while grieving.

Probate & Estate Planning in Virginia

While probate is a necessary legal process in all U.S. states, probate and estate planning state laws can vary, making it all the more crucial to understand how the probate process works in your state of residence.

In Virginia, probate entails submitting the decedent’s Last Will and Testament and all corresponding documents to the court of proper jurisdiction (typically where the deceased individual resided). After filing the documents with the probate division of the circuit court, the petitioner will likely need to make an appointment with the clerk’s office.

Before scheduling the appointment, it may be beneficial to seek legal counsel from a trusted probate lawyer, as a qualified attorney can help determine if probate is the most appropriate route to take. In some cases, there may be other options to successfully administer and close out the estate without needing to go through the formal probate process.

Is Probate Required in Virginia?

Many people are understandably interested in avoiding probate for various reasons, as the probate process can be tedious, costly, and time-consuming. Again, it’s critical to consult with an experienced probate attorney who can clarify legal statutes and recommend the best path forward based on your unique circumstances.

Most of the time, you will be required to go through the probate process in Virginia. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Even if the entire estate can’t avoid probate altogether, certain assets may be excluded from the probate process.

For example, the Virginia Code expressly provides alternative methods of transferring assets valued under certain threshold amounts listed in the Virginia Small Estate Act (Code of Virginia §64.2-601).

Additionally, other assets may include incidents of ownership that permit the transfer of assets without having to undergo the probate process. This can include transfer-on-death designations or beneficiary designations, such as:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts
  • Securities and stocks
  • Vehicles and bank accounts with a POD (“payable on death”) beneficiary

Compassionately Seeking Justice for Our Clients

Our compassionate team at Carroll & Nuttall, PLLC takes pride in providing experienced, knowledgeable, and straightforward legal services to our fellow Virginians. If you have recently lost a loved one and are unsure of how to proceed, one of the best decisions you can make for yourself and your family is to contact a Fairfax probate attorney who can assist in the administrative process.

Grieving the loss of a loved one can be an emotional time, and the last thing you need is additional stress. When you partner with our firm, you can count on us to prioritize your family’s wellbeing from start to finish. Our attorneys bring over 90 years of collective experience to the table to best serve you and your loved ones.

Take the first step to ensure your loved ones are taken care of. Call (703) 952-5801 or contact us online today to discuss your case with an experienced Fairfax probate lawyer.


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