Administration of Estates in Virginia

Estate administration is a broad topic that covers the administration of a decedent’s assets after they pass away. Sometimes, that may include probate with the court. Sometimes, that may include marshaling the assets of a trust and having all of the assets valued either to create a new cost basis or to prepare and analyze estate tax exposure.

Generally, administration includes marshaling the assets, paying all of the legally enforceable debts, filing any necessary income tax returns or estate tax returns, and then making distribution either according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia or pursuant to a decedent’s last will and testament or trust. Administrating an estate in Virginia is an involved process, and should be left in the care of an experienced estate planning attorney.

Determining an Estate Administrator

One of the important aspects of writing a last will and testament is the nomination of somebody to act as the executor of the estate. Without that nomination, the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia will take effect and they will provide a priority for the individuals that can serve.

The law, however, may not reflect the same individuals that a client would have wanted to serve in that capacity. For example, if an individual dies without a will and they have no spouse and three children, it is possible that not all three of the children are as financially responsible or detail-oriented as the others. Without providing a nomination, the court may decide who can serve and that individual may not be the same person that a client wanted to serve.

An estate administrator, called a personal representative or an executor in Virginia, is somebody that should be detail-oriented. They should be financially responsible and they should not have committed any major crimes, especially those that may speak to their inappropriate handling of finances or other people’s finances.

Working with an Attorney

Virginia laws are unique with regard to estate administration. All estate administration is generally governed by state-specific law and Virginia laws can vary from other local jurisdictions. The process itself can vary from local jurisdictions and in some instances, the laws may change or be different depending on which county or city a decedent died in or owned real estate in.

Administering estates is an involved process in Virginia and should be left in the hands of an experienced attorney. A Virginia attorney’s approach to estate administration will be to act for their client as practical and as efficient as possible. With the experience of having done estate administration work for a number of years, an estate administration attorney will be able to recognize that clients can be grieving and sometimes the grief will result in how they perform as a personal representative or an executor and, sometimes, how they react as an heir or a beneficiary of an estate.