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Expectations of the Fairfax Probate Process as a Personal Representative

If you were named as a personal representative in Fairfax, it is essential to understand what to expect from the probate process. Before you apply to qualify you should make sure you fully understand your role and obligations. An attorney can help.

A well-versed probate attorney can explain the process and help you make decisions that are right for you. Throughout the process, a lawyer can be an ally helping you know what to expect.

How Does Someone Know Whether They Must Handle Probate in Fairfax?

A person will know whether they must handle probate after a person passes away if the person had a will and the will nominates that person to serve as executor. That person who is named is eligible to qualify as the executor of the decedent’s estate so long as they are over 18 years old and is fit to serve. If a person passes away without a will, then there is what is called an order of priority regarding who is eligible to qualify as the administrator of the estate.

Timing is also involved in determining who is the administrator of the estate. For example, if less than 30 days have passed since the decedent’s date of death, then anyone who is entitled to inherit from the decedent’s estate can qualify as long as everyone else signs a waiver. Persons who are entitled to inherit from a person’s estate are also referred to as distributees.

If 30 to 41 days have elapsed, then the first distributee to apply has priority unless another distributee gave the clerk of the court notice that they had intended to qualify as administrator. If between 45 days and 60 days have passed, a guardian or a conservator of the decedent is also eligible to qualify as administrator so long as they are a non-profit or charitable organization. An attorney can help a person determine whether they qualify and the actions they must take.

Important Considerations for Personal Representatives

When a loved one dies, and a person chooses to be the personal representative, it is important to consider whether probate is even necessary. A person must consider the circumstances of the estate and the assets that are involved as certain assets will transfer to the proper beneficiaries without opening probate. Similarly, the estate may be eligible to be handled as a small estate which would not require qualification of an executor or administrator.

Because of these responsibilities and financial responsibilities, the court requires the payment of a bond unless the decedent’s will waived bond for the specific person applying to qualify. In theory, the probate process is not supposed to be a financial burden to a person who serves as a personal representative, but there is a significant time commitment involved.

This is because the duties and responsibilities of a personal representative extend beyond filing the initial paperwork and being appointed or qualified by the court to serve. Once the estate is opened, and a person has been qualified to serve as personal representative, that is when the job begins. That person then has the authority to act on behalf of the estate and collect all of the assets and manage them. This is meant to provide an inventory to the court to determine the true value of the estate. These duties and responsibilities follow the personal representative from the time the estate is first opened until it is finally closed.

What Happens When The Executor Does Not Want to Serve

If the nominated executor does not wish to serve, he or she does not have to serve. A clerk of the court may appoint a legatee, who is a person named in a will to receive assets, as the decedent’s administrator. However, if a legatee does not attempt to qualify as an administrator within 30 days of the decedent’s death, then the court will then just follow the order of priority as if the person had died without a will.

If an executor has qualified but then dies or decides they do not want to serve any longer, then the court will have to appoint a substitute for that person. The replacement is referred to as an administrator, and the court will then issue an order to that effect.

Discuss the Expectations of the Fairfax Probate Process as a Personal Representative

If you were named a personal representative, you might not know what to expect from the Fairfax probate process. This is especially true if this is your first experience with the process. However, a knowledgeable attorney could walk you through the process so that you can better understand your role. To speak with an attorney, call today.