After A Loved One Dies

As anyone who has lost a loved-one can attest, when a relative or close friend dies it is often difficult for family and close friends to know what to do first and to whom to go for help. In this traumatic time, there will be funeral arrangements to make, bills to pay, assets to protect and a myriad of questions to answer.

In this overwhelming time, the legal issues death often brings can become overwhelming. Tying up a your loved one’s affairs is a necessary part of this process -- and that is what we do for our Probate clients.

Common Probate Questions

  • Who should we notify and when?
  • Did he or she leave a Will?
  • When is the Will read and by whom?
  • Who is the executor?
  • Who gets the house? And who pays the mortgage?
  • Did he or she have life insurance and, if so, who receives the benefit?
  • When should the heirs receive their inheritance?

When A Loved One Dies

The first thing to do is to make funeral arrangements and meet immediate needs of any dependents and to protect the decedent’s assets from theft or loss.

The next thing to do, before you probate the Will or distribute any assets, is to contact Virginia Wills & Probate to discuss how to proceed in settling the decedent’s estate.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone dies - giving recognition to a will and appointing the executor or personal representative to administer the estate and distribute assets to the intended beneficiaries. This can include
  • proving in court the deceased’s will is valid
  • Identifying, inventorying & appraising the deceased person's property
  • paying debts and taxes, and
  • distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there's no will) directs.

How Does the Probate Process Work?

Strictly speaking, in Virginia Probate is the process of recording the Last Will and Testament of someone who died in the Circuit Court of the jurisdiction where the decedent lived. However, Probate often entails the significant task of qualifying as Executor and administering the decedent’s estate.

In many cases, it is not necessary to qualify as executor under a Will. In fact, qualifying before the Court could make administration of the estate needlessly expensive and challenging. If you do qualify as executor or administrator, it is imperative that you follow the correct procedures. Otherwise, despite your good intentions, you may make costly mistakes and/or expose yourself (and perhaps the family) to financial liability or legal consequences.

One of our attorneys will guide you through the proper procedures and assist you every step of the way in administering the decedent’s estate in accordance with his or her wishes and in compliance with the probate laws of Virginia and the federal tax rules.

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Have any questions?