How Long Does Probate Take in Virginia?

In Virginia probate is the process of proving before the appropriate court, that any document submitted as belonging to the decedent are legally valid and genuine.

Typically the executor that is appointed in your will presents this document to the clerk of the circuit court in the county or city in which you lived at the time you passed away.

Most people consider using estate planning as a method for avoiding probate in Virginia. Probate can add confusion and time to the closing out of your estate, and you might be more interested in being able to pass on your assets in a timely fashion.

The process of probate can be extremely complicated. This is especially true when one or more parties attempts to contest the will. The executor appointed to probate your estate has a big responsibility to gather all materials related to your estate and to begin filing necessary paperwork and tax returns after you pass away. There is no general answer for how long probate takes in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The complexity and size of the estate will dictate whether it takes longer than usual. An executor is responsible for filing an inventory of assets no later than four months from the date that they qualified as an executor and an accounting typically needs to be filed within 16 months from the qualification date.

Often administration of probate takes as long as it requires the executor to wind up the estate, pay out debts and distribute remaining assets. However, this process can be extended based on challenges to the will, trusts or other estate planning documents. Need a phone call with a Virginia estate planning attorney? Reach out today.



Irrevocable Trust Could Have Saved Fuss Over Novelist’s Estate

The late Tom Clancy’s novels showed he had a remarkable grasp of military strategy.

His muddled estate shows he did not bring the same kind of acumen to his own personal financial affairs, according to a recent article on the website
Clancy passed away in Baltimore on Oct. 1, 2013. He was 66. Even after his death, the writer’s estate continued producing bestselling books and video games.
It also produced a great deal of rancor among his survivors, some of which could have been avoided by better estate planning, according to the article.
“Less than a year after Clancy passed away, a heated battle over his estate unfolded in a Maryland probate court,” states the story. “The estate, which is estimated to be worth $83 million and could gain even greater value as Clancy’s works continue to be produced and sold, is being contested by Clancy’s widow and his adult children who were born to his former first wife. Among the probate issues being deliberated in court, there’s a monetary amount adding up to $18 million in state and federal taxes, which Clancy’s widow is petitioning to transfer over to the late author’s four adult children.
“Furthermore, The Wall Street Journal reported on the existence of a family trust set up by Clancy to leave his widow about 66 percent of his estate. However, Clancy’s widow claims that the wrongful execution of the estate caused a miscalculation that called for $6 million in taxes assigned to the family trust. There also appears to be will left by Clancy as well as a codicil executed a few months before the author passed away. Apparently, Clancy’s widow also sought to replace the executor of estate, who in Maryland court is known as a personal representative, since the current attorney serving in that capacity wishes to spread the tax burden equally amongst all heirs.”
“It seems as if Tom Clancy did not plan his estate as carefully as the highly organized military operatives in his novels,” Rocco Beatrice, Managing Director of Estate Street Planners, LLC, a financial planning firm focusing on asset protection, wealth management and estate planning, was quoted as saying. “It appears that Clancy left a will that created separate trusts for his widow and his four children from his first marriage, and the presence of a codicil suggests that he may have changed his mind at one point. With this in mind, it is not too surprising to learn that the Clancy estate is now going through probate.
“The fact that there is probate battle over estate taxation tells us that Clancy did not use an irrevocable trust, which could have prevented the current courtroom fight and the unwelcome media attention into his family’s finances.”

Will You Need a Probate Attorney?

The subject of probate is one that nobody wants to learn about too early; in fact, most people would probably avoid it altogether if they could. Unfortunately, the probate process can be very confusing and frightening when you are forced to become intimately acquainted with it—especially if you have no prior experience with or knowledge of it.

For a beneficiary, probate can be lengthy, expensive and frustrating; but if you have been named as executor, probate can suddenly become an overwhelming maze of deadlines, notifications and potential liabilities. This is why many executors choose to hire a probate lawyer to help them through the process.

If you are the executor of a small estate with a straightforward will and one or two beneficiaries who are not contentious then you can probably do without an attorney. But you will want to think about hiring an attorney if you are serving as an executor under any of the following circumstances:

* There are a number of beneficiaries who are not on friendly terms, or a number of beneficiaries receiving varying sizes of inheritance.
* The decedent had large estate with many different assets, especially if the assets are not commonly held.
* The decedent was a resident in a different state than your own home state.
A large number of creditors are making claims on the estate.
* There is a disagreement about the will, or if more than one will was found.
* The will is challenged or contested.

These are only a few of the reasons why you might want to consider hiring an attorney to help you through the probate process. If you aren’t sure whether you’ll need an attorney, don’t hesitate to call our office for a consultation. We can help walk you through the process and consider any obstacles that might arise. A little bit of foresight, and knowing you have an experienced professional on your side, can make all the difference in the probate process.