Virginia offers a few shortcuts in probate that not every state offers.
One such shortcut is if the only asset that needs to be probated is real estate in Virginia. That means all other assets either had a joint owner on them (for example, a joint bank account) or had a beneficiary named on them (for example, a retirement account that named a child as a beneficiary).
When all there is to probate is real estate in Virginia, a full probate is not necessary and no one needs to qualify as the Executor or Administrator of the estate.
If the deceased person had a Will, the person named as Executor in the Will should make an appointment with the probate office in the county the decedent resided in when they passed away. The purpose of the appointment is to simply record the Will. Once the Will is recorded, the real estate passes automatically to the beneficiary named in the Will. That’s it! No full probate process – just one appointment.
If the deceased person did not have a Will, instead of recording the Will, a “List of Heirs/Real Estate Affidaivt” form must be filled out and recorded.
Whether or not the deceased person had a Will, at the appointment you would need to bring a certified copy of the death certificate, a list of the names, addresses, and ages of the heirs at law (and beneficiaries if there is a Will), and a legal description of the property (which can be found in the Deed). There will also be some probate fees collected at the appointment.
But that’s it! No further paperwork or inventories or accountings have to be recorded with the Commissioner of Accounts. The beneficiaries then own the property and can maintain it or sell it as they please.
If you have questions about the probate process, you should definitely sit down with a probate attorney as every situation is different.
This blog is only for informational purposes. Please remember this is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Every case is special and more information would be needed to provide you the best legal advice possible.