When a Virginia resident dies, the people closest to the deceased need to pay the debts of the estate and distribute any remaining assets as the deceased intended. If there was no estate plan, the estate must be distributed according to Virginia law. This process is called probate, or estate administration. At Wallace Law, we are dedicated to guiding loved ones through the often-confusing Virginia probate process with compassion.
Understanding the Virginia Probate Process
If the deceased left a last will and testament, that document likely named a personal representative (also known as an executor) to manage the probate of the estate. The personal representative must be qualified in the clerk’s office of the Virginia county in which the deceased last lived or owned real estate before taking any action on behalf of the estate. If there was no will, or the will did not name a personal representative, the clerk’s office will qualify a personal representative (also known as an administrator) to carry out the necessary duties. Virginia law gives a list of individuals with priority to serve as administrator; close family members have the highest priority.
Once a personal representative (or administrator) has been qualified, he or she must take charge of the estate, securing all assets, notifying all interested parties of the probate proceedings, and handling the business of the estate. The personal representative is supervised in this process by the Commissioner of Accounts, but the Commissioner of Accounts does not provide legal advice.
An experienced Virginia probate attorney provides essential guidance to the personal representative, making sure that all legal obligations are met and carried out without unnecessary delay. Because an attorney’s services are considered a benefit to the estate, they are typically paid for out of estate funds, rather than from the personal representative’s pocket.
Attorney Megan Wallace has years of experience in Virginia probate practice. She focuses her practice entirely in the areas of probate, trust administration, and estate planning. Her services include assisting the personal representative of Virginia estates with duties including:
- Gathering the information required to open the probate estate and qualify the personal representative
- Scheduling the appointment with the probate clerk to open the estate and attending with the personal representative to guide her or him through this meeting
- Procuring bond for the client, if necessary
- Locating estate assets and preparing an inventory
- Notifying heirs and creditors of probate proceedings
- Making sure that court fees and estate expenses are paid in a timely fashion
- Preparation of commonwealth and federal estate tax returns
- Preparation of required tax certificate
- Evaluation of creditor claims against the estate and payment of legitimate claims
- Resolution of ancillary probate matters
- Preparation and filing of accountings with the Commissioner of Accounts
- Coordinating with other professionals, such as accountants and financial advisers, to seamlessly manage estate business
- Distribution of estate assets and efficiently closing the estate
In addition to assisting personal representatives and administrators, Megan Wallace also works with beneficiaries and heirs of probate estates, helping them to know and protect their rights under Virginia law.
Responsive, Efficient Representation for Virginia Probate Matters
At Wallace Law, probate, trust administration, and estate planning make up our entire practice. In addition to offering our clients the experienced legal guidance they need, we take pride in being accessible to address their concerns, and in providing efficient, detail-oriented service leading to a prompt resolution of their probate matter, avoiding needless delay and expense.
We understand that the weeks and months after a loved one’s death are difficult. We do everything in our power to make this time easier by offering clear explanations of the probate process, and providing the customized support each client needs to carry out their responsibilities as personal representative.
We invite you to contact Wallace Law to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.
Assistance With Ancillary Probate Matters in Virginia
It is not uncommon for a resident of one state to own real estate or certain other property in another state. When someone dies owning property in a state other than the one where they lived, that property may be subject to probate in the state (or commonwealth) and county where it is located. This process is known as ancillary probate or foreign probate. Wallace Law regularly coordinates with attorneys handling probate cases in other states to file and conduct ancillary probate matters in Virginia.