Probate & Estate Administration
Probate Information Packet
Overview and Jurisdiction
The Code of Virginia grants the Clerk of the Circuit Court the authority to probate wills and appoint and qualify an Executor or Administrator for a decedent’s estate.
To probate a will (put it to record) and to qualify as an executor or administrator of a decedent’s estate, you must go to the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office in the County where the decedent lived at the time of death.
An attorney is not required to probate a decedent’s estate but may be helpful to assist you with complicated situations. Under Virginia law, probate clerks cannot give legal advice, answer legal questions, or give advice on how to fill out the forms filed with the commissioner of accounts.
The person appointed as an executor or administrator must give bond before performing their duties. The bond is a written promise that the person appointed to handle estate affairs will faithfully carry out their duties as a representative of the decedent’s estate.
If neither the will nor Virginia law waive security on a bond, surety will need to be posted on the bond. Most often surety or security is obtained through a bonding company.
If surety is required on your fiduciary bond, it will be necessary for you to arrange for a bondsperson to be present at your appointment. You may also wish to contact your own insurance agent to see if they handle fiduciary surety bonds. Listed below are our frequently used bondsmen:
- Manly Rucker of the Rucker Agency in Amherst: 434-946-5297
- Heather Rogers of Hankel-Citizens Insurance in Charlottesville: 434-296-7191
- Michele Davis of NGM Insurance in Lynchburg: 434-528-4747
Scheduling a Probate Appointment
Probate and qualification matters are handled by appointment only. Appointments will not be scheduled until all necessary information has been provided to the Probate clerk in advance.
Probate taxes and fees will be due at the end of your appointment before a Certificate of Qualification can be issued. An estimate can be provided when all estate information is received by the Clerk’s office. *The Clerk’s office accepts cash, checks, or money orders for payment. Cards are not accepted.
State probate taxes depend upon the value of the probate assets, with an assessment of $1 per $1,000 value of probate assets.
- Testate: dying with a will
- Intestate: dying without a will
- Fiduciary: general term used to refer to an executor, administrator or trustee
- Executor: person named in a will to handle the estate
- Administrator: person appointed by and qualified by the probate clerk to administer the intestate decedent’s estate; usually next of kin such as spouse, sibling, child, etc
- Qualification: process whereby a person is appointed by the probate clerk to serve as the executor or administrator of a decedent’s estate
- Certificate of Qualification/Letters of Administration: document with the court seal issued by the probate court appointing an executor or administrator of an estate
- Beneficiary: person or organization entitled to receive a portion of the estate
- Self proving will: an acknowledgement of the testator and the affidavits of attesting witnesses made before an officer authorized to administer oaths
- Holographic will: handwritten will; must be fully in the decedent’s handwriting