We believe in ensuring our clients have the opportunity to grieve the loss of a loved one, but we also know that life doesn’t always give us that opportunity on our schedule. The administration of a loved one’s estate is arduous. It can be a series of filing forms and deadlines, it is the emotional strain of wading through troubled family relations, and it can be plagued with delays and roadblocks. We always recommend planning ahead to avoid these facts, but life isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, we have to care for the estate of our deceased loved one without their guidance. Even the best of estate plans can lead to prolonged administration. Whatever the circumstance, we here at Holcomb Law have the experience to aid in the journey. We can help.
What happens now that Mom has passed?
This is always the most troubling time. The confusion and grief when a loved one passes can be quite debilitating and overwhelming. We first recommend to take some time and mourn the loss. The estate administration doesn’t always need to be rushed into; you have some time. When you and your family are ready, we are here to help.
When you do come in to see us, we will first review what the deceased loved one left behind by way of instruction. Was there a will or a trust, were there beneficiary accounts, was there joint ownership or POD at the financial institutions. Sometimes, we know this ahead of time and it makes the process more smooth. Sometimes, our loved ones are more private with their affairs, and we have to examine all the assets to discover our next step. Either way, we have the experience to help.
I am named as the personal representative; what are my responsibilities in administering the estate or trust?
Whether you serve as trustee or executor, you become responsible for navigating the intricacies of federal and state laws, managing the emotions of family members, and fulfilling the wishes of the deceased. These can be tough tasks. A proficient attorney can aid in such legal matters. Estate and trust administration lawyers assist in a wide range of tasks in this intricate field of law, such as:
- Discovering the assets, and identifying how they are titled,
- Obtaining the probate appointment,
- Coordinating with the representative to provide the court with the required information and any third parties that may need to be involved,
- Drafting any required filings,
- Making distributions,
- Ensuring final taxes have been filed,
- Assisting with judicial actions, should they be required.
We here at Holcomb Law want to help lessen the burden of serving in this challenging role.
What is Probate?
From the Latin word for to prove, probate is the act of proving the proper form and contents of a will. In Virginia, this is done with the coordination of the probate clerk at the Circuit Court. A proponent of a will or named Executor, will schedule a hearing with the Clerk. At this meeting, the Clerk will examine the will to ensure it meets the proper standards, will create the probate estate, and will qualify the personal representative. Once qualified, the Executor begins the process of administering the estate.
What if there was no will?
Intestate succession in Virginia (or, the administration of an estate without a will) is governed by statute. The process for qualification as personal representative is the same as if the decedent passed with a will, with a few changes. Generally, the Clerk reviews the death certificate, the presented personal information about the decedent and the person seeking qualification, and will administer the oath qualifying the administrator (as when a will is involved); however, when there is no will the administrator is required to post a bond. This is an insurance policy that protects the estate should there be any problems in administration. Also, there are a few powers an Executor will have that an Administrator may not possess.
Whether you are seeking appointment as Executor or Administrator, we at Holcomb Law are able to help guide you through this troubling time.
How long does the process take in Virginia?
This is probably the most common question we get. Unfortunately, it is also a question we are unable to answer. Several factors contribute to the timeline for estate administration. Once qualified, the personal representative must go about collecting the assets, identifying any specific gifts called for the in the will, identify all of the outstanding obligations of the decedent (and, in some cases determine the legitimacy of them), sell property if needed or required, and make certain that the proper filings have been submitted to the court and the Commissioner of Accounts.
We here at Holcomb Law are here to help with each of these actions long the way.
Give us a call!
Managing a loved one’s estate after their passing may be extremely difficult. Our firm works to make the procedure as pleasant as possible as we recognize the emotional toll that such circumstances carry.
Our staff is available to assist family members and friends in navigating the complexities and nuances of estate administration in cases where a client dies before appropriate estate planning has been completed. From the initial application to the last accounting, we walk our customers through each step of the probate procedure.