Under Virginia law, assets go through probate if the deceased had assets in his or her sole name without a beneficiary form filled out or joint ownership at his or her death. Virginia does allow a limited probate process if the only asset is real estate or if the total non-real estate assets are under $50,000.00. Since many estates contain property exceeding $50,000, the court requires the estate and will to go through probate.
The executor named in the will is responsible for tending to probate on behalf of the deceased. Since this person should know about these duties in advance, it may help to become aware of the basic actions required in the probate process.
Who finds out about the will?
The executor of the will faces several tasks as part of probate. One is notifying creditors and heirs of the deceased’s death and that the will is opening probate. This allows those who believe they have a stake in the estate to appear in probate or lodge a claim.
What is involved in probate?
The Executor must follow the court process of probate which includes filing various inventories and accountings to show what assets are involved, the exact value of the assets at the deceased’s date of death, how any interest or income has been earned since date of death, and how debts have been settled and paid. All of these filings require specific forms and formats and additional court costs and filing fees.
What does not go through probate?
Some assets do not pass through probate. The deceased may have taken steps to assure that the immediate family had access to property and cash outside of probate. The most common assets that do not go through court name beneficiaries, such as:
- Insurance policies (if a beneficiary form has been filled out)
- Retirement accounts (if a beneficiary form has been filled out)
- Trust accounts
- Joint bank accounts
Most of these have beneficiaries who inherit as indicated in the account terms.
Probate may take substantial time to get through. Having someone who can help create a plan to help the family can provide relief quicker than waiting out the process.