Wills and Probate

Probate Process


Disclaimer: The purpose of this information is to inform the general public and is not legal advice or remedy.

Probate is done by appointment only. If you wish to schedule a probate appointment or have any questions please contact the Probate office. Appointments may take 2-4 weeks to schedule. To expedite matters, please fax a copy of the will, any codicils, and a copy of the death certificate to the Probate office.

You must also complete the Probate Packet form. Submit completed form with a copy of the Will (if there was one), a copy of the death certificate, the most recent assessment or tax bill for all property the decedent owned in Virginia and a List of Heirs.

The Small Estate Affidavit form can be used if the personal property (not real estate) of the estate does not exceed $50,000. This is not a Circuit Court Form and does not get filed or returned to the Court. Specific procedural questions may be answered by calling this office. If you have a problem involving the legal interpretation of Virginia statutes pertaining to estates, you may wish to contact an attorney licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

What to Bring to an Appointment


If the decedent died with a will, please bring the following information to your appointment with the Probate Clerk;
  1. The original will and any codicils (not copies)
  2. A certified copy of the death certificate
  3. A valid photo identification
  4. If the will is self proving, you do not need to bring the witnesses to the will or depositions of the witnesses to the will to your appointment. Otherwise, witnesses to the will or depositions of the witnesses are required.
  5. The approximate dollar value of the solely owned assets of personal property (bank accounts, automobiles, stocks, bonds, etc.) and the fair market value of real estate in Virginia which must pass through probate.
  6. Cash, check or credit card to pay the probate fees. An ATM machine is located on the first floor of the courthouse. No credit or debit cards are accepted.
  7. The names, address, and ages of the primary heirs at law. VA Code § 64.2-200.
  8. If the executor named in the will does not wish to serve, they must submit a notarized refusal letter or a Waiver of Qualification form. If the named executor is deceased, a certified copy of the death certificate must be provided. A letter from a physician is required if the executor cannot serve due to a medical incapacity.
  9. A named executor who resides outside of Virginia who wishes to be appointed as an executor, must bring a Virginia resident with an ID to the appointment to be designated as a registered agent or to co-qualify, or bring a notarized consent form where the Virginia resident agrees to serve. VA Code § 64.2-1426
  10. Contact a bondsman. (see Fiduciary Bonds below)
If the decedent died without a will, please bring the following information to your appointment with the Probate Clerk:
  1. A certified copy of the death certificate
  2. A valid photo identification
  3. The approximate dollar value of the solely owned assets for both personal property (bank accounts, automobiles, stocks, bonds, etc.) and the fair market value of real estate located in Virginia which must pass through probate.
  4. Cash, check or credit card to pay the probate fees. An ATM machine is located on the first floor of the courthouse.
  5. An administrator residing outside of Virginia who wishes to be appointed as Administrator must bring a Virginia resident to the appointment to either be designated as a registered agent or co-qualify, or bring a notarized consent form where the Virginia resident agrees to serve. VA Code § 64.2-1426
  6. The names, addresses and ages of the primary heirs at law. VA Code § 64.2-200
  7. Contact a bondsman. (see Fiduciary Bonds below)
Note: For a list of person(s) having preference for appointment as an Administrator of Intestate Estates, see Virginia Code § 64.2-502

Fiduciary Bonds


Fiduciaries must be bonded. The bond is a written promise that one will faithfully perform his duties as a fiduciary (Executor or Administrator). The bond amount is set by the Probate Clerk. The bond issued on behalf of the estate helps to ensure that the person appointed properly administers the assets of the estate and helps to protect the interests of the heirs, creditors, beneficiaries, and the Commonwealth as their interests relate to the estate. State statutes govern whether the bond is with or without surety. The Probate Clerk will set the appropriate bond amount during your appointment. If a surety is required on your fiduciary bond, it will be necessary for you to arrange for a bondsperson to be present at your appointment. You may request a list of certified bonding companies from the Clerk’s Office or find them in the local telephone directory. Any out6 of state fiduciaries are required to have a bondsperson unless a Virginia resident is qualifying with them.

Appointment of a Resident Agent


All non-Virginia fiduciaries must appoint an in-state resident to serve as resident agent to accept service of process or other notices on behalf of the estate. Before being appointed as resident agent, this individual must consent to the appointment in writing. Forms are available online.

After Your Qualification as Executor or Administrator


The Commissioner of Accounts is a lawyer appointed by the Circuit Court Judge to oversee the actions of the fiduciaries and is responsible for reviewing and approving estate inventories and accountings. He can help you after you qualify and answer questions regarding your responsibilities and the ultimate closing of the estate. Williamsburg-James City County’s Commissioner of Accounts is Thomas A. Norment, Esquire. His contact information is listed below:

Telephone #: 1-757-259-3850.
Mailing address: P.O. Box 6000, Williamsburg, VA 23188
Office address: 4801 Courthouse Street, Suite 30, Williamsburg, VA 23188.