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Probate is a process be which the debts of a deceased person are identified and paid, and title to the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate.   Some probate is a court-supervised process for distributing the individually owned assets of a deceased person to beneficiaries in accordance with the instructions written in the person's will, or if there is no will, then by the laws of intestate succession. Other probate involves nothing more than filing some papers with the probate office.  Sounds simple and yet it is not.

Estate administration can be complex. The lay people you select must make important decisions - sometimes quickly - and they may need help to make them wisely. They may need to prepare inventories of your property, prepare tax returns, or sign other important documents on your behalf. Ultimately they must divide and distribute your property to those individuals or charities you identified in your will or trust agreement.

The Virginia laws governing probate continue to change, but the problems that arise seem to repeat themselves again and again.  Frequently executors attempt to undertake probate without the advice of counsel, and get themselves in trouble either with the Commissioner of Accounts who is overseeing the probate, beneficiaries of the Estate, creditors, the tax authorities, or any combination of the foregoing.  What follows are some observations, suggestions and tools, organized in a series of steps, that may be helpful to you,  None of what follows, however, is a substitute for the guidance of legal and tax professionals.
We have attempted to capture the probate process into ten steps.   Some steps are relatively easy, but others can be complicated and technical.    Read More...