Monday, November 4, 2013

What is Probate?

Probate is the official proving and recording of a will as the authentic and valid last will and testament of the deceased.  The will should be probated where the decedent (deceased individual) resided at the time of his or her death.  If the decedent passed away in a nursing home or similar institution, then the individual’s residence would be where he or she resided before the nursing home. 

Probate is necessary when the decedent has solely-held assets, which are assets that were not jointly owned or already designated to a beneficiary.  Assets involved in probate include real property and personal property such as bank accounts, cars, stocks and bonds, and personal belongings.  Life insurance and retirement accounts are usually not included in probate because they have named beneficiaries.

            What to bring to the Probate appointment at the Courthouse:

·         The original Will;
·         A certified copy of the death certificate;
·         If the Will is self-proving, you do not need to bring the witnesses to the Will or depositions of the witnesses;
·         The approximate dollar value of the solely owned assets for both personal property (stocks, bonds, bank accounts, automobiles, etc.) and the fair market value of real estate located in Virginia which must pass through probate;
·         The names, ages, and addresses of the heirs at law.  The heirs at law are not necessarily the beneficiaries of the Will.  Heirs at law are determined by kinship to the deceased;
·         Cash or check to pay fees.  Visa and Mastercard are also accepted.  There is a processing fee for each credit card transaction;
·         Valid photo identification.

      Do you need an attorney?  Not necessarily, but you should talk to an attorney about your particular situation.  You may need just a small amount of legal assistance or you may need a significant amount of  legal assistance.  It’s also possible you may be able to handle probate entirely on your own, but by first talking with any of the RRBMDK attorneys that handle will and estate matters, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about your probate legal needs.