Administration of Estates

Probate is the official proving and recording of a will as the authentic and valid last will and testament of the deceased.  The will should be probated where the decedent was last known to reside; or if none, where the decedent owned any real estate; or if none, where the decedent died or has any estate.  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 at such home.  

Visit §64.2-443 Jurisdiction of Probate of Wills for more information.

An estate must be probated when the decedent has solely-held assets that do not have a joint or co-owner with rights of survivorship, a beneficiary (not in the will but actually on the account or security), or a payable-on-death designee.  Assets include real property and personal property.  Personal property includes bank accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other types of securities, as well as personal belongings and vehicles.  

When a person dies testate,  it means that he/she left a valid will.  If a person dies intestate,  it means that he/she did not leave a valid will.  If a person dies intestate, then the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in effect at the time of death, determine who the heirs are and who receives the decedent's property.

The executor named in the will or the administrator wishing to qualify on the decedent's estate must schedule an appointment with the Clerk's Office to probate the will and qualify as executor/administrator.   

Before your appointment to qualify, you will need to bring to the Clerk's Office:

  • The original will and codicil(s), if any,
  • A certified copy of the death certificate,
  • The approximate dollar value (as of the date of death) of any solely held personal assets, and
  • The approximate fair market value (as of the date of death) of real estate in Virginia deeded solely to the deceased or the value of the percentage owned by the deceased when the real estate is deeded as tenants-in-common (Download the Form (PDF)). 
  • The names, ages, and addresses of heirs at law (PDF) (These are individuals who are legally entitled to receive an estate when there is no will, pursuant to §64.2-200 of the Code of Virginia.  This list is still required if the person died with a will (testate))
  • Valid photo identification (i.e. valid driver's license, identification card issued by the DMV, passport, Military ID, or other government-issued photo ID). 
  • The completed Probate Information Form (PDF)

The probate clerk will set an appointment with the executor/administrator to qualify and will notify you of the fees that will need to be paid at the time of qualification.