Tuesday, August 9

Simple Ways To Avoid Costly Probate in Virginia

Usually, the probate process has five main stages – filing the petition to probate the will in the local probate court, notifying the beneficiaries, assessing a deceased person’s property, paying off their debts, and distributing the funds to the inheritors.

However, probate laws vary from one state to another and may require different documents to show in court or additional steps. If you are going to probate in Virginia, this article is for you!

Below, you will find information about how Virginia probate laws work, if it is possible for an executor to get paid, and how to avoid costly probate or not to probate there at all. Read on to educate yourself on the subject!

What Is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process of transferring a deceased person’s assets to the inheritors. It is required by law in one form or another in every US state. The duration of the probate process depends on how complicated your case is and how quickly you act. However, it usually takes 3-12 months in most cases, but it can take more than a year in more complex cases.

There are two main types of probate:

  1. Small estate administration process. If the deceased person had a will and their property is less than $50,000 (in Virginia, but this number may vary depending on the state), the executor may file the petition to probate the will and distribute the assets without going to court.
  2. Large estate. If the deceased person did not leave a will or their property is worth more than $50,000 (in Virginia), the executor must petition the local probate court for permission to distribute the deceased person’s assets.

Usually, probate assets include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, and personal belongings, such as collections, jewelry, artworks, etc.

Is Probate Required in Virginia?

Yes, probate is required in Virginia. However, it may be avoided by using VA’s small estate laws if the deceased person had a valid will and their property is less than $50,000. There are also special processes for estates worth more than $50,000 but less than $100,000 and estates worth more than $100,000 but less than $500,000.

How To Avoid Probate in Virginia?

To avoid probate in Virginia, you may want to consider these options:

  1. Make a will. The easiest way to avoid probate is to make a valid will with clear instructions about how you want your assets transferred among your beneficiaries after your death.
  2. Organize your affairs. If you have numerous assets that need to be distributed after your death (real estate, bank accounts, stocks, etc.), it makes sense to appoint an executor who will perform this task after your death.
  3. Keep valuable items in joint names. If you have valuable items such as art or antiques worth more than $50,000, make sure they are in joint names with someone else so they can be inherited without probate.
  4. Establish a revocable living trust and name the beneficiaries. It is one of the most beneficial ways to avoid costly probate, as trusts are separate entities from a deceased person and, therefore, don’t have to go through the probate.
  5. Create Transfer on Death (TOD) or Payable on Death (POD) assets, accounts, or policies with named beneficiaries.

Do I Need to Probate a Deceased Person’s Estate if They Had a Will?

You do not need to probate a deceased person’s estate if they left a will. However, if there is no will or it was invalidated or revoked before they died, you need to probate their estate and distribute their assets according to the probate laws in VA.

Is Probate Expensive In Virginia?

It is impossible to name an accurate figure, as probate costs depend on several factors, such as the estate’s size and complexity, whether heirs contest the will or not, if there is a retained probate attorney, among other things.

Apart from those, you should expect some necessary fees that accompany the majority of probate cases. These include attorney and filing fees, court costs, requested compensation for the personal representative, executor, administrator, or probate bonds, etc.

What Are the Steps of Probate in Virginia?

These are the necessary steps of the probate process in Virginia: 

  1. File the petition to probate the will in the local probate court. 
  2. Publish the notice of the death of a person in the newspaper. 
  3. Assess the deceased person’s property and pay their debts. 
  4. Distribute the assets to the inheritors according to the deceased person’s will or according to VA’s law if there was no will at all.
  5. Close the estate.

Is It Possible To Receive Compensation For an Executor in Virginia?

Yes, it is possible. If you are appointed an executor of a deceased person’s estate in Virginia, you may get paid for performing your duties. In Virginia, usually, an executor receives 5% of the estate value.


Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, the probate process may take from 3 months to even more than a year. The same factors affect the cost of probate. However, there are some ways to avoid costly probate in Virginia.

If you have an estate worth less than $50,000, you can avoid probate in Virginia if you make a valid will with your instructions about how you want your assets distributed after your death. You can also consider placing the estate in a revocable living trust, titling the property in Joint Tenancy, or creating assets with named beneficiaries.

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