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PROBATE……and what it means

What is Probate?  The official proving of the will as the authentic and valid last will and testament of the deceased.

Simple probate is recording a will only, and no qualification required.  Only the original will can be presented for probate.

Two main purposes for recording a will:  (1) if real estate is being transferred to a beneficiary named in the will.  The will, once recorded (probated), is the official document transferring the property to another, and takes the place of a deed being recorded;  and (2) genealogical interests.

Where should the will be probated?  Pursuant to the Code of Virginia, the will is to be probated in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office of the city or county where the decedent resided, or where the decedent owned real estate.

What is required to bring to the Clerk’s Office?  The original will and an original death certificate.  The Executor brings in the will with information as to the assessed value of real estate, if real estate is transferred to a beneficiary; and secondly, an estimated total value of all personal property that was solely in the name of the decedent at time of death such as:  vehicles, stock, bonds, CD’s, checking accounts, savings accounts, and insurance policies if said policies did not name a beneficiary.

When qualification is required:  The decedent, with or without a will, has personal property, such as money accounts – savings, checking, CD’s, stocks, bonds, etc. that were only in the decedent’s name at time of death.  The institutions in which these accounts are held, will advise the executor or representative that no one has access to the accounts without qualification papers.

What is the meaning of dying intestate?  A person dying without a will.

What is the meaning of dying testate?  A person dying leaving a will.

Steps prior to coming to the Clerk’s Office:  Call the Clerk’s Office of Circuit Court at 757 365-6233, to make an appointment.  You will be given specific instructions regarding what you need to bring with you for your appointment.  Please see our helpful Probate Questionnaire Form below to get you started.

Probate Question Form

Helpful Resources:
Virginia Judicial System Court Self-Help - Probate
Probate in Virginia Administration of Estates
Guide to the Administration of Decedents' Estates in Virginia
A DMV Guide for Family Members and Friends of the Recently Deceased