Last updated on May 20th, 2019
A Virginia Probate administrator is the person responsible for distributing your estate after you pass away. If you pass away with a will, testate, then you may choose your probate administrator, also known as your executor, in your will.
Throughout this guide, we’ll give you information about the responsibilities and duties that an administrator has during the Virginia probate process.
What is Virginia Probate?
Virginia probate is the court process that helps manage the distribution of your estate after you die. The probate process occurs whether or not you die with a will.
If you die with a will, generally your executor presents your will in the probate court and is appointed as the probate administrator.
If you die without a will, the probate court appoints a Virginia probate administrator who is then responsible for distributing estate assets according to intestate succession in Virginia.
The main basis behind probate court is to make sure the deceased’s will is valid and that their estate goes to the correct people. If there is no will, the probate court ensures that intestate succession is carried out.
Once the case is presented to the court, an administrator must be assigned.
What Does a Virginia Probate Administrator Do?
Virginia probate administrators are in charge of managing the estate assets and distribution. Furthermore, an administrator holds the same responsibilities as an executor would if there were a will.
The courts tend to appoint a surviving spouse or next of kin of the deceased (a child or parent) to be in this role.To help you get a better sense of Virginia probate administrator responsibilities, we’ll break them down below.
Once the will has been presented to the probate court, the administrator must obtain an employer identification number for the deceased’s estate. The number will be used to identify the estate on all documents and actions.
The administrator also files proof to the IRS that states that they are the fiduciary of the estate. This, as a result, gives them the right to handle all matters when it comes to the estate’s taxes.
Locate and Manage the Estate
Once the probate court appoints the administrator, it is their job to collect all assets and property within the estate. This includes monetary accounts such as savings, cash, stocks and shares. Estate assets also include personal property such as furniture, cars, and jewelry, as well as real estate and intangible property such businesses and intellectual property.
A Virginia probate administrator must complete this part of the probate process within four months of their appointment. Once the total value of the estate is assessed, the administrator will be able to determine the estate’s value and proceed with debt payments and distribution.
Virginia probate administrators must conduct an extensive search of the deceased’s personal documents in an effort to find their creditors and or beneficiaries. Administrators look through financial records to discover any debts. If found, administrators reach out to creditors to make sure all debts are paid and that subscriptions are cancelled.
If a debt has to be deliberated through courts to prove validity, the administrator must use the estate to pay for all court fees including attorney and accountants if needed.
It’s also important to note that if one’s estate is not enough to make such payments, the administrator and beneficiaries may need to sell estate assets in order to pay off debts.
Handle Tax Matters
Virginia has no estate tax–it was repealed in 2006 and made effective for individuals who die after July 1, 2007.
However, there may still be tax and financial obligations that need to be met by your estate’s assets. Tax filings for the last year of your life, including state and federal income taxes, will need to be filed with the probate court.
Distribute Assets To Beneficiaries
After the administrator pays off all debts and taxes, they must then distribute assets of the estate.
Distribution of the estate will depend on if there is a will that names beneficiaries or not. If there isn’t, probate will then proceed to intestate succession.
Intestate succession is the order in which a Virginia probate administrator distributes the estate to family members of the deceased. Regardless of where they live, it is the administrator’s job to contact all beneficiaries of the estate.
File an Account
Once they properly distribute the estate, a Virginia probate administrator must file a account six months after their appointment. The account is a report of all disbursements, distributions and receipts made on behalf of the estate. Once the probate court approves the final account, they will relieve the administrator of their duties and the process will be complete.
After reading this guide, you should be more aware of the role and responsibilities of a probate administrator. Moreover, being a Virginia probate administrator requires a lot of work and attention to detail.
Because the Virginia probate process can be tedious, you should seek legal counsel to help you. An estate planning attorney can help you reduce the risk of costly mistakes down the line.