Virginia Probate Lawyer

Losing a loved one is always difficult, and the period after they pass can be incredibly challenging. To make matters more difficult, most families must go through the probate process, which can be complex, before they can access their loved one’s money or property.

A Virginia probate lawyer can provide guidance and advice throughout the process. They can explain what to expect and be available when you have questions or when complications arise. Working with a local estate planning attorney can help you move through the probate process more quickly and with confidence that you are handling matters correctly.

Understanding Probate

Probate is a court-supervised process to settle the debts and distribute the property of a deceased person. The person’s family will have to go through probate regardless of whether the decedent has a will. When the decedent has a will, probate ensures their family follows their wishes; when the decedent dies without a will, probate or the court ensures the estate’s administrator distributes their assets in accordance with the law.

A will names an executor to carry out the decedent’s wishes and manage their estate. When the decedent does not have a will, the probate court will name a person to serve as the estate’s administrator. Executors and administrators have specific duties under the law. A Virginia lawyer can assist an executor or administrator throughout probate to ensure they understand their obligations and carry them out appropriately.

Representation in Will Contests

Unfortunately, disputes about a decedent’s intentions are common, and wills are not always as clear as they should be. Beneficiaries or people who believe they should be beneficiaries could contest a will in court if they dispute its terms or even its validity.

When a decedent has a will, someone may contest it by arguing the will is invalid. The court can find a will be invalid for any of the following reasons:

  • Two witnesses did not sign the will in front of each other
  • The will was forged
  • The decedent was not mentally capable of understanding the will when they signed it
  • A beneficiary exercised undue influence over the decedent
  • The decedent created the will under duress
  • Someone defrauded the decedent to persuade them to make the will

When the probate court finds that will invalid, state intestacy laws apply. In other words, the court will distribute the property in the estate of the decedent as if they did not have a will.

When a decedent did not leave a will, Virginia Statutes § 64.2-200 and § 64.2-201 determine who inherits their property. Sometimes, a person not recognized in the law has a provable claim to an inheritance. When there is evidence to support a claim for an inheritance, a Virginia attorney can represent a claimant in probate court to prove they are entitled to a portion of the estate.

Tax Considerations in Inheritance Cases

The estate of a decedent is liable for income taxes payable in the year of their death. The executor or administrator must pay the taxes out of estate assets before distributing any property to the heirs.

Virginia does not impose a tax on inheritances. However, depending on the type of property a person inherits, there could be tax implications for the individual. Sometimes it makes financial sense for a beneficiary to refuse an inheritance.

A probate lawyer in Virginia can ensure an executor or administrator is aware of the need to file taxes for the estate. They also can assist a beneficiary in preparing for any financial responsibilities they might inherit when they receive the property, and advise them about whether to accept or disclaim the inheritance.

Prepare for the Process With a Virginia Probate Attorney

Multiple financial and legal questions arise when someone dies. A Virginia probate lawyer can help with all of them, from helping you manage the estate to advising you about will contest issues. Time limits apply to most issues regarding probate, so learning what the law requires is critical. Contact a legal professional at Parks Zeigler, PLLC, today.

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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524 Albemarle Drive,
Suite 200

Chesapeake, Virginia 23322
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200 N. Water Street,
Suite 2A

Elizabeth City, NC 27909
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