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What is Probate?
- posted: Jun. 02, 2020
- Firm News
What is Probate in Virginia? There is the complex legal definition and then there is the more standard definition. Black’s Law Dictionary defines Probate as: “The act or process of proving a will. The proof before an ordinary, surrogate, register, or other duly authorized person that a document produced before him for official recognition and registration, and alleged to be the last will and testament of a certain deceased person, is such in reality. The copy of the will, made out in parchment or due form, under the seal of the ordinary or court of probate, and usually delivered to the executor or administrator of the deceased, together with a certificate of the will’s having been proved, is also commonly called the “probate.”
In short, it is the procedure of proving a Will and becoming (qualifying) the Executor, or qualification of an Administrator if there was no Will, before the Courts of Virginia. This procedure typically requires certain documents:
- The Will (if applicable)
- Death Certificate
- List of Heirs
If the Estate is small or there are a limited number of beneficiaries, then many times the qualification occurs before the Clerk of Court rather than a Judge. Even in this situation it is not a guarantee that a court proceeding can occur, particularly if a beneficiary challenges the qualification. If the Estate is more complex, or there are potential beneficiaries likely to cause arguments, then it is recommended to petition the Court and hold a hearing to appoint the personal representative (Executor or Administrator).
After the successful probate qualification, many deadlines and notices are required, with some being more immediate than others. Typically, it is best to send notifications to all heirs immediately, and to begin the process of compiling the Inventory and preparing the Accounting.
If you are handling a probate matter and need assistance or guidance on the next steps, you can contact my office at [email protected] or by phone at 540-443-9255.