Arlington Probate Process

Probate is the court administration proceeding of administering a decedent’s estate. It is required when an individual dies with an asset in their sole name without a beneficiary designation or without a joint owner. However, in Virginia, real estate is not often subject to probate unless the will requires it, which is different from many other jurisdictions. An experienced probate lawyer can further explain the process and what is required for a specific estate.

When is Probate Required?

Probate is required if an individual has written a last will and testament, that must be filed. A full administration might be required if an individual died with assets in their sole name that did not have a joint owner, a beneficiary designation, or are pre-funded into a trust. In the event a decedent had an asset in their sole name, probate will be required to access that asset and distribute it either pursuant to the laws of intestacy or to an individual’s last will and testament.

Probate assets are determined based on how they are titled. Assets are subject to the probate process if they meet the requirements for probate detailed above. The only exception to that is that real estate in Virginia is not often subject to probate.

Roles in Administering an Estate in Arlington

In the probate process, there are a couple different key parties. The first is the nominated executor of the estate. Either an individual nominates an executor in their last will and testament, or an executor or personal representative is appointed based on the order of priority in the statutes of Virginia. The job of the executor is to marshal the asset, pay any legally enforceable debt, make sure all of the decedent’s income and estate tax returns that are required are filed and make distributions pursuant to the laws of intestacy or the decedent’s last will and testament.

Another important role is that of a legatee. A legatee is an individual who has been named in the decedent’s last will and testament as a beneficiary of the estate. Another role to note is an heir. An heir is an individual who would be entitled to inherit from a decedent’s estate if a decedent died without a last will and testament.

There is sometimes confusion between a legatee and an heir. Individuals tend to think that they are the same, but they are not. The difference is that a legatee is somebody who was named by the  testator in their estate plan, and an heir is someone who would be entitled to the estate if the decedent died without a last will and testament. Therefore, it is possible that an individual can be both a legatee and an heir to the estate, which would mean they are entitled to inherit, but it is also possible that somebody is an heir who may not necessarily be a legatee, and they would not be entitled to inherit from the estate. They would just be an interested person at law.

The Impact of the Size of an Estate

There are two different types of probate processes. Estates below $50,000 are covered by the Virginia Small Estate Act.  If an estate falls under the Virginia Small Estate Act, then qualification of a Personal Representative may not be necessary.  Establishing a personal representative would be beneficial or required if the estate exceeds $50,000. Therefore, if the estate was a regular administration, it would be required to have a personal representative qualified to administer the estate.

Learn More About the Arlington Probate Process

The probate process in Arlington depends on the specific circumstances. For example, the size of the estate, whether there is a will, and the debts owed will all impact the process. Therefore, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can serve as a guide to make the process as efficient as possible. To learn more, call today.