Wills & Estate Administration
Probate and Estate Assistance During COVID-19 Pandemic
- Before visiting, contact the Probate Division by email, phone 804-706-7680, or fax 804-717-6797.
- At this time, full probate and qualification matters are handled by appointment only. Appointments will not be scheduled until all necessary information has been provided to Probate staff in advance (see below for scheduling).
- Probate matters require that an oath be taken so in most cases, an in-person appointment will be required, observing appropriate social distancing, of course. Probate/qualification appointments will be handled at a customer window which separates customers from staff by a glass partition. A videoconferencing approach may be an option in some situations.
- To record a will and to qualify an Executor or Administrator of a decedent’s estate, you must contact the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office in the jurisdiction in which the decedent resided at the time of death. Probate/estate matters are handled by appointment.
- The personal representative (Executor or Administrator) of an estate is charged by law with numerous responsibilities. It is the legal obligation of the personal representative to fully understand and discharge his/her required duties.
- Further details may be obtained from the Chesterfield Circuit Court Clerk and Chesterfield County’s Commissioner of Accounts.
- An attorney or an accountant can provide assistance as well.
Scheduling a Probate Appointment
To provide an estimate of the fees/requirements for probate and/or qualification of an Administrator/Executor, at a minimum, we would need the following in advance of scheduling**:
- Your contact information (name, address, phone number, email address)
- Copy of the Last Will and Testament/Codicil(s), if any. The original Will/Codicils will need to be presented at the probate appointment (and retained by the Clerk at that time). The copy is needed for advanced review to ensure that the Will was executed in compliance with VA law.
- Copy of the death certificate.
- Name, address, and date of birth for all individual(s) wishing to serve as Executor or Administrator (if any).
- Estimated estate value - The estate value estimate should include assets that were titled in the decedent’s name alone at the date of death. It should not include any items that have a named beneficiary or a payable on death designation. If assets are held jointly with a right of survivorship, those assets would be excluded from the estate as well. Attached is a worksheet on which you can track amounts if you would like.
- Full names and addresses of heirs (surviving spouse or closest living relatives)
**The above information may be emailed (any attachments as PDF preferred) or faxed (contact information above). You may also drop off copies in the Circuit Court Clerk’s drop box located outside the main Courts Building located at 9500 Courthouse Road. The drop box is available 8:00-4:00 Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Place all items in an envelope addressed – ATTN: Probate Division. DO NOT provide the original Will/Codicil(s) at this time, only a copy. Safeguard the original Will/Codicil(s) until such time that a probate appointment is scheduled.
After the information you’ve submitted has been received and reviewed, a Probate staff member will contact you to advise as to next steps in relation to scheduling.
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 and must be the most recent will executed)
- death certificate
- witnesses to will or depositions of witnesses, if not self-proving
- approximate 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)
(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.