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Virginia Probate Process

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Many people have heard the term “probate” but do not know exactly what it means or who it affects. Probate is defined as the official proving of a will as the authentic and valid last will and testament of the deceased. For practical purposes, it’s the process by which the Court oversees and approves the manner in which a person’s assets are passed to those named in his or her Last Will and Testament. Probate generally takes 12 months or longer to complete, with a number of fees and filings required by the Court. After the named executor/executrix qualifies before the Court, they become responsible for carrying out the deceased person’s wishes as expressed in the Will. Following is a brief outline of an executor’s duties:

Gather and safeguard all assets of the probate estate and insure that the assets are properly accounted for. Prudently invest estate funds during the period of the estate administration. Obtain valuation of all assets for estate tax purposes.

Apply to the Internal Revenue Service for a taxpayer identification number for the Estate and utilize it on all estate accounts.

Within four (4) months from the date of qualification, prepare and file an accurate estate inventory with the Commissioner of Accounts regarding the probate estate.

Maintain a continuous account on all receipts and disbursements of the estate, and identify and satisfy the creditors, insuring that for each disbursement there is a canceled check and sub-voucher. If there is not enough money in the estate to pay debts, the Virginia Code determines the order in which debts are paid.

Prepare and file the deceased person’s final United States and Virginia income tax returns.

Prepare and file the United States and Virginia Estate tax returns if the Estate is valued at more than $5,250,000.00 (for 2013 – the amount varies for prior years). These returns are due to be filed within nine months of the date of death.

Within sixteen (16) months of qualification, file the First Accounting with the Commissioner of Accounts, including original statements, returned checks, and invoices/receipts. An accounting will be due annually thereafter until the final distribution is made and the estate is closed.

Prepare and file the United States and Virginia Fiduciary income tax returns for each year that the estate is under administration.

Complete distribution of the Estate in accordance with the Last Will and Testament.

The probate process in Virginia involves many other obligations and requirements. Davis Law Group is here to help. We have assisted executors and executrixes in navigating the probate process for more than 20 years. Davis Law Group also provides information to families of decedents who die without Wills. For more information on this subject, or for help with an existing probate administration, please contact Davis Law Group.

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Douglas H. Cook
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Stephen Haynes
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