Opening an Estate in Probate in Virginia Beach

When a person passes away, a process known as probate is used to distribute many of their assets to their heirs. This is true whether or not a person created a will during their lifetime. The court will appoint someone known as an executor or administrator to handle things on behalf of the estate.

Opening an estate in probate in Virginia Beach is a complex process, and there can be serious complications when things are not done properly. You do not have to manage this task on your own. A compassionate probate attorney can prepare your estate plan or help advise you on how best to administer a probate estate.

Early Steps

While the probate process plays out in court in Virginia Beach, things must be accomplished long before an estate is opened. These efforts begin immediately after the passing of a loved one. First, it is necessary to obtain a copy of the death certificate as soon as it is ready. Obtaining multiple original copies can be helpful, as more than one party might ask for an original.

The most important early step is locating the last will and testament—assuming one exists. In some cases, this process is easy. If the decedent did not tell family members where to look or provide them with their attorney’s information, this could require some digging.

Often, multiple versions of wills have been drafted and amended over the years. It is a good idea to hold onto every copy in case it becomes relevant during court proceedings.

Submitting Documents and Filing the Petition

Probate is a document-heavy process. In addition to providing the court with the death certificate and will, other forms must be filed. They provide basic information about the decedent, list all of the heirs, and also include a probate tax return.

In some cases, additional documentation is needed to establish a last will and testament is valid. There are also forms if the person handling these steps was not named as the executor. An attorney in Virginia Beach can assist with this part of opening an estate in probate.

Appoint an Executor or Administrator

Up until this point, no one is officially overseeing the estate. Even the individual named as an executor does not formally have the role despite applying for an appointment and providing all the necessary documentation. The court must formally appoint this person, which involves issuing something known as the certificate of qualification.

An executor is the name of the party named in a last will and testament. If no one is named or there is no will in place, the court will name an administrator to handle the process.

Handling Assets and Debts

Once formally in a position of power, the executor or administrator is tasked with dealing with what the decedent owned at the end of their life. Before they can hand out belongings, they must first address any outstanding obligations. This includes paying any taxes and debts with the assets of the estate. Once these obligations are paid, the property of the deceased is distributed according to their will. If there is no will, state law determines which heirs are entitled to inherit. A lawyer in Virginia Beach can help an executor through this part of opening an estate in probate.

Contact a Virginia Beach Attorney to Complete Opening an Estate in Probate

Much like with opening an estate in probate in Virginia Beach, there must also be a formal closing. The executor is responsible for wrapping things up and submitting the final paperwork to the court-appointed Commissioner of Accounts once all assets are distributed. Once this is done, the Commissioner of Accounts and the court relieves them of their duties.

If you are facing the prospect of navigating probate court, you do not have to do so on your own. An experienced attorney could answer your questions or assist you with complex problems. Reach out to Parks Zeigler, PLLC, right away to learn more.

Areas We Serve

With an office near Town Center, Virginia Beach and a second location beside the Chesapeake courthouse, our team provides quality legal representation across the entire Hampton Roads Area.

  • Virginia Beach
  • Hampton
  • Chesapeake
  • Newport News
  • Norfolk
  • Yorktown
  • Portsmouth
  • Accomack County
  • Suffolk
  • Northampton County

Parks Zeigler, PLLC – Attorneys At Law

Parks Zeigler, PLLC – Attorneys At Law N/a
4768 Euclid Road,
Suite 103

Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462
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