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Wills and Estate Administration Frequently Asked Questions -
 
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Clerk of Court
The Honorable Wendy S. Hughes

Phone: (804) 748-1241

Email Us

circuitcourtclerk@chesterfield.gov

This email account is intended for general inquiries only. For specific case-related inquiries, please call the Clerk’s Office during public service hours to speak with a staff member in the appropriate division.


Filings
The Court does not accept case-related filings via the Internet, e-mail or fax.
Filings are accepted via mail, courier or hand delivery.

Public Service Hours
8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Monday through Friday

Recording Hours
8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 125
Chesterfield, VA 23832-0909

Street Address
9500 Courthouse Road
Chesterfield, VA 23832
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Circuit Court Clerk
Wills and Estate Administration Frequently Asked Questions -

Chesterfield's Circuit Court Clerk provides this information as an aid to the general public in understanding the basic procedures involved in probate and the administration of estates. This guide is not intended to

  • be inclusive, as the laws in Virginia regarding probate and estate administration are complex and subject to change.
  • take the place of legal counsel provided by an attorney.

Determining If and Where Probate/Qualification is Necessary

How do I determine where to probate the will or qualify as personal representative?

  • The Circuit Court Clerk is responsible for handling probate and estate qualification matters.
  • Jurisdiction is determined by the last place of residence prior to death.
  • If the decedent was in a nursing home at the time of death, jurisdiction is determined based on the residence occupied before the decedent became a resident of the nursing home. 
  • Contact information for all Virginia Circuit Court Clerks 

How do I decide whether or not I should probate a will or qualify as Executor or Administrator of an estate?

There are several reasons why a will should be probated (or recorded). The three basic reasons are

  • There may be assets that need to be administered by a personal representative (i.e., assets in the decedent's name alone, not held jointly with a right of survivorship)
  • The decedent may have owned real estate in Chesterfield or elsewhere, either alone or jointly with someone.**
  • The will, once probated, would become a matter of public record, thereby serving as a formal genealogical link to the decedent's family.

By recording the will, it becomes a permanent record available for review by family members as well as potential beneficiaries and creditors.

What if the decedent died without a will and held only real estate at the time of his/her death?

  • The real estate passes to the heirs at law
  • Although qualification is not typically necessary under these circumstances, it is necessary to record a Real Estate Affidavit (form CC-1612) in order for the Tax Assessor's records to reflect the intestate transfer of property in the Court's land records.

Preparing for Probate/Qualification

What should I do if I need to probate a will and/or qualify as personal representative (Executor/Administrator) of an estate?

  • Please note that probate/qualification matters are handled by appointment.
  • Contact the Probate Division of the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.
    • By FAX 804-717-6797
      • Provide a copy of the death certificate and will (if one exists)
    • By emailing the Clerk’s Office and a Probate staff member will contact you to schedule an appointment.
      • Be prepared to provide information about the decedent’s heirs.
      • Be prepared to provide information about the estate value (see below).

NOTE: Include contact information; however, DO NOT write on the will itself.

    • If you are unable to fax or email, call the Probate Division at 804-748-1241. If you must leave a message, every effort will be made to return your call the same business day.  (Please refrain from calling multiple times.)
      • If the decedent had a will, have the original will with you when you call to make the appointment.
      • The Clerk or Deputy Clerk with whom you speak will ask you a few questions regarding the execution (signing) of the will and the decedent's wishes regarding qualification of a personal representative.
      • Be prepared to provide information about the decedent’s heirs.
      • Be prepared to provide information about the estate value (see below).

How do I estimate the estate value?

  • Include all property (real estate and personal property) that was in the decedent's name alone at the time of his/her death.
  • Include tangible personal property as well as intangible assets (e.g., stocks, bonds, etc.).
  • Do not include property held jointly with a
    • right of survivorship
    • property payable to a named beneficiary
    • assets with a payable on death (POD) designation (e.g., life insurance policies with a named beneficiary or bank accounts with a joint co-owner or POD designation should not be included).
  • Estimate the fair market value of the assets as of the decedent's date of death.
    • DO NOT DEDUCT debts owed, loans, or mortgage amounts.
  • Compute separate totals for personal property and real property.

Bond/Surety

What is bond? What is surety?

  • A bond is a written promise that one will faithfully perform his/her duties as Executor or Administrator.
  • The bond is set at an amount greater than the estate value and is payable to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • A bond issued on behalf of an estate ensures that the person appointed as Administrator or Executor properly administers the assets of the estate.
    • This safeguards the interests of creditors, heirs, beneficiaries and the Commonwealth as their interests relate to the estate.
  • If neither the will nor Virginia law waive surety on a bond, surety will need to be posted on the bond.
    • Surety has the effect of insuring the bond, should it become payable.
    • Most often, surety or security is obtained through a bonding company.
    • The company must have the authority to execute bonds and the agent must provide his/her power of attorney at the time of the qualification appointment.
    • A premium proportionate to the value of the estate is paid to the bonding company.

How do I arrange for surety?

If it is determined that surety on a bond is required,

  • a bonding or insurance company should be contacted to act as surety
  • you may contact your own insurance agent to inquire if they post fiduciary (Executor/Administrator) bonds
  • the Clerk’s Office can provide a list of known companies that may be able to assist.    

Fees

What fees, taxes, and costs will I need to pay upon probate or qualification?

  • State probate tax - ($.001 x value of probate assets)
  • Recordation of will - $16.00 up to 10 pages (including the Clerk's Order - testate only)
  • Recordation of list of heirs - $16.00 (testate and intestate)
  • Transfer fee - $1.00 - (if decedent had interest in Chesterfield real estate)
  • Clerk's fee Sliding scale - (maximum $30)
  • Certificate of qualification - $2.00 each (two included in base fee)

What to Bring to a Probate/Qualification Appointment

TESTATE (with a will)

  • original will (and codicils, if any) - copy not acceptable (must have original signatures)
  • death certificate
  • witnesses to will or depositions of witnesses, if not self-proving
  • approx. dollar value of probate assets
  • names, ages and addresses of heirs at law 
  • notarized waiver of executor named in will who does not wish to serve (if applicable)
  • payment (payment types accepted)
  • Government-issued photo ID (e.g., driver’s license)

INTESTATE (without a will)

  • death certificate
  • approx. dollar value of probate assets
  • names, ages and addresses of heirs at law 
  • if within 30 days from date of death, consent of all heirs at law who do not wish to qualify
  • payment (payment types accepted)
  • Government-issued photo ID (e.g., driver’s license)

Definitions

(Source: VCCA Probate and Estate Administration Manual)

  • Executor - The person named in the decedent's will to administer the estate who accepts appointment by qualifying before the Clerk.
  • Administrator - The person appointed by and qualified before the Clerk to administer the [intestate] decedent's estate.
  • Trustee - Person holding property in trust. One in whom an estate, interest or power is vested.
  • Decedent - The deceased person.
  • Heirs - Persons who would inherit the decedent's estate if the decedent died without a will.
  • Beneficiary - The person or organization entitled to receive a portion of the estate.
  • Fiduciary - A person in a position of trust with respect to another's property; a general term used to refer to an executor, administrator or trustee.
  • Self-Proving - Acknowledgement of the testator and the affidavits of attesting witnesses, made before an officer authorized to administer oaths.
  • Qualification - Procedure whereby a person is appointed by the Clerk to serve as executor or administrator of a decedent's estate.
  • Testate - Dying with a will.
  • Intestate - Dying without a will.
  • Certificate of Qualification - (Also called Letters of Testamentary) Formal instrument of authority and appointment given to a fiduciary by the proper court, empowering him or her to act in the capacity of a fiduciary.

Contact Information for Clerk and Commissioner of Accounts

Whom should I contact if I have questions or if I need to make an appointment for probate and/or qualification?

Chesterfield Circuit Court Clerk
804-748-1241-ask for Probate Division

After qualifying, whom should I contact if I have questions regarding my reporting responsibilities? Whom should I contact when I am ready to close the estate?

The Commissioner of Accounts is an attorney commissioned by the Circuit Court Judges to oversee the actions of fiduciaries and is responsible for reviewing and approving inventories and accountings.

Commissioner of Accounts
Bryan K. Selz, Esq.

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 998
Chesterfield, VA 23832
Physical address:
9512 Ironbridge Road, Suite 110
Chesterfield, VA 23832

804-796-4891 phone
804-796-4892 fax

 
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