When a person dies, his or her estate typically goes through Virginia’s probate system. This is usually the case whether or not the decedent had a will—the presence of a will often speeds up probate, but it does not eliminate it altogether. Instead, the closing of the estate is generally overseen by the state’s circuit courts (Virginia does not have a separate probate court system.). During probate, various aspects of the estate will be handled. This typically includes the distribution of assets and properties, resolution of outstanding debts, and more.
When someone dies without a will, the probate process can be incredibly complicated. Regardless of the situation, our team can help. At DiPietro Law Group, PLLC, our Fairfax probate lawyers have extensive experience navigating the Virginia probate system. We can help you navigate the process from start to finish.
Contact our office online or by phone to learn more.
How the Probate Process Works in Virginia
When an individual creates a will, he or she names a person to serve as a personal representative, or executor, of the estate. If the decedent did not leave a will, an administrator will be appointed by the court. In either case, this person is responsible for overseeing the process of closing the estate. It is the executor’s job to ensure that the estate is handled according to the decedent’s will. If no will exists, the administrator will be charged with handling the various aspects involved in closing the estate.
Though the process can vary from case to case, the estate administrator or executor is generally in charge of:
- Finding/gathering the decedent’s properties and assets
- Contacting heirs, beneficiaries, and others entitled to benefit from the estate as listed in the will (if one exists)
- Properly filing the will with the court to begin the probate process
- Taking care of any outstanding issues, such as cancelling credit cards, notifying the bank of the death, etc.
- Paying outstanding debts and/or loans with funds from the estate
- Ensuring that any necessary payments, such as mortgages or taxes, are taken care of until the estate has been closed
- Overseeing the division of property and assets, either according to the will or according to the state’s laws of succession
If you are the executor or administrator of an estate, our firm can assist you with these and other responsibilities. We are even able to serve as executor if needed. Our team also assists individuals who wish to contest a will or contest a court-appointed administrator.
Estate & Trust Administration
When an individual sets up a trust, he or she appoints a trustee to take over the trust when he or she dies. Trusts typically allow you to avoid probate and instead go through estate or trust administration. The process is similar to the process of closing an estate through probate but does not involve the oversight of the court. Instead, the trustee is tasked with managing the trust assets and distributing those assets to the trust’s beneficiaries. Depending on the nature of the trust, this may be an ongoing process. If, for example, the terms of a trust specify that a beneficiary will receive small monthly payments (rather than a large lump sum), the trustee will be in charge of handling these payments.
In addition to our probate services, DiPietro Law Group, PLLC can assist you with any aspect of estate administration. We are happy to answer your questions and keep you informed throughout the process.
To speak with one of our probate attorneys in Fairfax, call our office today.