Distributing Fairfax Estates to the Heirs or Beneficiaries 

As the executor of a will, an individual has a lot of responsibilities. One of an executor’s responsibilities is filing an inventory, in order to assure that the value of the estate is accounted for, and the process of distributing Fairfax estates to the heirs or beneficiaries can begin. If you want to know more about the process of distributing assets, speak with a seasoned trusts and estates lawyer that could help.

Beneficiary Designation

A beneficiary designation is a contract between the financial institution or company and the owner of the account or policy. The owner of the account or policy designates a person that has the right of asset if the owner dies. When there is a beneficiary designation on an asset like a bank account or life insurance policy and the owner of the asset dies, that asset goes directly to the person designated to be the beneficiary. Beneficiary designation is just one method of distributing Fairfax estates to the heirs or beneficiaries.

When an asset has a beneficiary designation such as a bank account or a life insurance policy, the asset goes directly to the named beneficiary. If a person leaves a last will and testament, that document governs the decedent’s assets that do not have a beneficiary designation or a joint owner.

This means the beneficiaries of a last will and testament are distributed assets that are titled in the decedent’s sole name. For example, many times real estate does not have a beneficiary designation and is titled in the decedent’s sole name. Therefore, the real estate goes to the beneficiary pursuant to the last will and testament

Order of Priority Explained

In Virginia, the order of priority usually refers to the priority of payments of debts and statutory allowances. For example in Virginia, before distributing Fairfax estates to the heirs or beneficiaries, estate administration expenses are paid. Similarly, before creditors are paid from an estate, the family can make certain claims such as the family allowance, claim for exempt property, and the homestead claim.

In the event the estate is about $10,000, a creditor may not get paid if the family decides to make a claim for a family allowance because the family allowance is greater than $10,000. In that example, the family could make the family allowance claim and obtain the $10,000 which was the totality of the person’s estate. In that case, the creditor is not paid.

Is Order of  Priority a Strict Role or a Guideline?

The order of priority is a strict role. That means the estate administration expenses and funeral expenses are paid first before a creditor is paid. Those expenses and debts are paid prior to any distribution being made to the beneficiaries of an estate.


An inventory is a document required by the court that details the specific assets or categories of assets a person owns at the time of their death. The purpose of the inventory is to give the Commissioner a picture of what the estate owned at the time of the person’s death. The inventory specifies the value as of the date of the person’s death. Inventories must be filed within four months of the date an executor or administrator was qualified by the courts. This is the starting point of the assets that must be accounted for before distributing Fairfax estates to the heirs or beneficiaries.

Different Inventory Categories

In Virginia, the inventory is separated into four different categories:

  • Personal property of the estate
  • Real estate of the estate that is authorized to be sold by the personal representative or executor
  • Real estate that is not authorized to be sold by the executor or administrator
  • Bank accounts that are held jointly with another person

In addition to the title of these assets and what they are, the values of the assets must be included as of the date of death. Appraisals are usually needed to get these evaluations.

Who Receives the Inventory?

The Commissioner and the individuals entitled to receive notice of probate such as the surviving spouse if there is one, the beneficiaries under the will if there is a will, and all of the heirs at law receive a copy of the inventory. This does not mean those people are entitled to receive assets that are specified on the inventory. They receive a copy of the inventory so they understand the value of the estate. If an individual wants to know more about inventory and distributing Fairfax estates to the heirs or beneficiaries, they should consult a knowledgeable trusts and estates lawyer that could answer their questions.