Probate in Virginia: FAQs

Posted by: Copenhaver, Ellet & Derrico

If a family member recently passed away, probate is probably an issue you need to face. Probate is a very technical area of law. If the person responsible for handling an estate makes mistakes, they may pay for it out of their pocket. The better you understand probate, the less intimidating it becomes.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process that has several steps:

  • Naming a personal representative to oversee the estate (the legal owner of the deceased’s assets and debts)
  • Determining if there’s a valid will or not
  • Creating an inventory of assets and property
  • Organizing and prioritizing debts, fees, and taxes
  • Paying them as necessary
  • Distributing assets according to the will or to commonwealth law if there is none
  • Closing the estate

Is Probate Necessary if There’s a Will?

Probate may or may not be necessary whether there’s a will or not. Whether probates are required depends on the size and complexity of the estate. Your family might skip the traditional probate process if the deceased had a small estate – the estate wasn’t worth more than $50,000 when the person passed away. If that’s the case, you can use a much simpler process.

Will I Have to Pay Probate Taxes?

The estate may pay commonwealth probate taxes if a property in Virginia has a value greater than $15,000. Taxes are calculated at 10 cents per $100 of value, including the first $15,000 in assets. Localities may impose a local probate tax, which is generally about one-third of the state probate tax.

Federal estate taxes apply if the estate is worth more than $11.7 million for 2021 – the value changes every year.

What’s the Estate Executor’s Job?

The decedent names the person who is responsible for the estate. If the court agrees, the person becomes the estate’s personal representative or executor. They make decisions concerning the estate with court approval.

What Fees and Costs Are Involved?

There are fees for various reports, including:

  • $275 maximum fee for an Inventory Report and a graduated fee for an Account Report – if the estate’s worth more than $1 million, the cost is $1,320 plus .00075 over $1 million, not to exceed $11,000, except if the court approves.
  • Recording fees are $16 for the first ten pages of the will, $16 for the List of Heirs, $67 for the Real Estate Affidavit, and $16 for the Affidavit of Notice.
  • The qualification fee depends on the estate’s value.
  • A transfer fee applies for real estate taxed in the name of the decedent.

Where Is the Probate Court in Roanoke?

Probate matters are handled in the Roanoke City Circuit Court located at 315 West Church Ave.

Where Can I Find Probate Forms?

Forms are available online and at the court.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney for a Probate Case?

Larger and more complex estates may require a Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico probate attorney. If you’re the personal representative and make serious mistakes, the court could order you to pay any costs. We can help you avoid these errors. The estate, not you, pays our fees.

If you’re a beneficiary and you suspect that the personal representative is mishandling the estate, we can protect your rights. If the deceased owes you or your business a substantial amount of money, we can help you get paid as much as possible.

Contact a Virginia Probate Attorney For Help

Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico helps clients with estate planning and probate. We can handle the paperwork and make sure the process goes smoothly. If you need help or have questions, call us at 540-655-1854 or use our online contact form.