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Virginia Probate Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Is it illegal for a non executor of a will to prevent an executor from doing his or her job?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Feb 14, 2021

Every state in which I practice gives executors, administrators, and personal representatives powers to accomplish their objectives. If you don't know what those powers are or how to use them, you need to retain counsel. The estate can pay for that legal advice, so it isn't coming out of... Read more »

3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: How does the law apply when someone dies and a executor is named, then one of the heirs dies before the estate is

settled, what happens with the deceased heirs portion of the estate?

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Feb 10, 2021

Most likely the deceased heir’s share will become part of the deceased heir’s estate. However, the only way to know for certain is to review the first decedent’s will.

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1 Answer | Asked in Banking and Probate for Virginia on
Q: If a will says that 3 people are named executors. Is it illegal for one of them to close a bank account before probate?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jan 14, 2021

The Will must be probated, and the court must appoint the personal representatives (executors/executrix in Virginia) before they have any power at all. If the bank account is not a probate asset. like an account in which a beneficiary is named or a joint account that was not created for the benefit... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for Virginia on
Q: What happens if an executor steals money from an estate?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jan 10, 2021

The executor must file an inventory and an account. Anything that isn't accounted will come into question. If you suspect a greater problem, you should communicate with the estate's attorney or with the Commissioner of Accounts.

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: Can a person go to jail for breach of fiduciary duty?
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Jan 10, 2021

It depends on how severe the beach is. If, for example, the breach amounts to theft or conversion then, yes, it is possible. Breach of fiduciary duty is first and foremost a civil offense, and there is typically no criminal liability for civil offenses, but there is some overlap between civil... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: Can a non executor close the bank account of someone who is deceased?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jan 4, 2021

If the account had a joint tenant with right of survivorship that was not a Totten Trust or a POD or a designated beneficiary, then the funds pass to the designated beneficiary outside of probate. The executor has very little to do with it, and the bank should only require the beneficiary to... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: My mother passed in Oct with no will or executor. Her only asset was a mobile home that was paid for, but she rented

the lot. The home is valued at 8,000 but she had credit card debt in excess of 10,000. Do I need to go through the probate process? I have several other questions regarding this matter.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Dec 3, 2020

I'd be happy to sell you a discounted one-hour consult, and we could do it by Zoom in these quarantine conditions, but why would you want to open a probate estate? If her assets were $8,000 -- assuming you could get $8,000 after it was moved off the rental property -- and her debts were... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: In VA, do you include a simple joint checking account with deceased in estate inventory? Father and daughter.
Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart answered on Nov 27, 2020

Have you consulted an experienced lawyer? There are a lot of considerations that many people don't know, such as the answer to your question. At least once a month I save my clients a lot of money - a multiple of my consultation fee - because of those details.

That said, if you look...
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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: My deceased fathers estate was handled by an appointed firm who also handled claim against his llc that won 43000

The appointed commissioner of revenue also had been asked prior to the appointment of an executor to represent myself and while in a consult with senior partner in firm he had me bring important paperwork in that he most surely copied because he took them out of conference room for around thirty... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Nov 24, 2020

I have no idea what you are asking. First, I think you are referring to the Commissioner of Accounts for your jurisdiction, but the executor or your father's estate would have been appointed by the Register of Wills, not the Commissioner of Accounts. If you did not petition to become the... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Civil Rights and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Now that I have a answer about the lawsuit against my brother inlaw who has passed.

Now they want my husband to settle up with them because he was sole heir. We dont know what to do!

My brother inlaw denied to his dieing breath it was untrue what my nephew accused him of but the lawyer said we owe him money for the pending lawsuit he had on going when my brother inlaw... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 14, 2020

The type of lawyer you need is a probate lawyer who also does litigation. If you are representing the estate and the estate is in Virginia, you may use the estate's assets to pay the litigator as needed. You can find an attentive and talented lawyer by searching the Find a Lawyer function at... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: There was a pending lawsuit against my brother inlaw who passed. My brother inlaw was accused of molesting his nephew

25 years ago. Brother inlaw denies all allegations and nephew has no witnesses or proof. He did not say anything about this issues until he found out my brother inlaw was dieing and thought he had a lot of money.

My husband took care of his brother with ALS for 2 yrs and left everything to... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 7, 2020

I’m not sure what you are asking, but it sounds like you need a lawyer to review and file a demurrer. If the estate has no money and no claim can be made for fraudulent transfer, I think the case is likely over. Negotiating pro se is a waste of time.

1 Answer | Asked in Contracts, Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: In VA: can the deceased's lawfirm file a change of address for the deceased w/o notifying next of kin?
Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart answered on Oct 4, 2020

It is impossible to answer a bare question such as you posted without any context - is the firm the executor of the estate or do they represent the executor? If so, then yes they can.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My father's will left me 36 acres of land. It was owed jointly with mom. She sold 5 acres of it without my knowledge?

Dad wanted me & my brother to be co-trustees. My mother redid the trust and named my brother & herself as co-trustees. They tried to keep Dad's will out of my hands. I finally got a copy from her lawyer. Seems fishy to me.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 27, 2020

If the land was held by entireties with his wife, and if he predeceased her, it wasn’t his to give in his will. The land passed outside of probate to the survivor. Nevertheless, there are confusing references to trusts, and trusts imply inter vivos grants prior to demise or special titling of... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Father passed away 10 years ago was married at the time of death but since she has remarried is she entitled to estate

My sister was the holder of the will. I was told she lost the will which we all knew how he wanted the estate to be left to his children. Since she lost the will the court suggested we do a estate transfer. If we do the estate transfer it not only will go to his children but the now ex wife since... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 25, 2020

The remarriage is irrelevant. The theft of the Will by the sister is a felony, but it must be proven. After all, storing the Will with one of the heirs or beneficiaries was just plain stupid. The widow is entitled to her intestate succession or her spousal share (often called dower) rights, which... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: Can a certified copy of a will be probated if original is lost? In Virginia.

Mom had dementia. she had the original of her will but then lost it. My sister who is her executrix has a certified copy of the will but is told she can't use that to probate. Since the original is lost, can her certified copy be used?

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Aug 20, 2020

The idea that she "lost it" is a problem. You need put the matter on before the court rather than the probate clerk and prove that your mother did not lose it for the purpose of destroying it. Even if she had dementia, she might have been lucid enough to lose it or destroy it... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: My brother misled everyone about the will & the expensive jewelry pieces are "missing".

ROANOKE, VA NOT MASON, OH...My brother is the executer of my aunt's will that died Nov 2019. He's lied to all of us, supposedly the only 3 expensive pieces of jewelry are "missing" & he told the insurance inventory there wasn't any. He's a jerk to everyone, partly... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Aug 5, 2020

This is the second time I've read this question, but I still don't have an answer you can DIY without a lot more interviewing and potential filing. You need a lawyer, and the lawyer may be able to petition for you to be executor because your brother declines to serve. If the estate is too... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law, Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Fathers wife needs his children to sign papers for her to sell his house why would this be?

I have no clue of his will

He married her after he bought house but is trying to sell but cant because his children need to sign paperwork and I have no clue what this means I live in Fredericksburg va the house is in deptford nj

Anthony M. Avery
Anthony M. Avery answered on Jul 15, 2020

Not sure of your question. But it sounds like NJ Intestate Secession probably makes the Decedents' issue Heirs-At-Law along with the surviving spouse. And all Heirs are needed to convey.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My father passed away in 2016. My stepmom and step sister never called me. They stole his will. Can I challenge
F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof answered on Jul 15, 2020

The challenge that you may make will depend on the status of your father's Estate, whether it is still in the probate court or was already closed by the probate court.

3 Answers | Asked in Tax Law, Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Mom passes intestate in Fairfax Co VA, how can I file her final tax returns after the POA ends?

All assets were liquidated into a POD account years ago, all current income taxes, funeral costs, and debts have already been paid. Only final taxes on bank interest, a modest Social Security income, final IRA distribution costs and the POD account will remain when Mom passes. Does the estate have... Read more »

Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart answered on Jul 10, 2020

I'm sorry for your loss. You may not have to do very much as everything was POD. And that included 'probate'.

I suggest you consult an attorney - in Virginia - to advise you and reassure you of where you are. Elder Law attorneys are familiar with estate law and procedure -...
Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: With VA slayer statute, who pays slayers debts ?

This was a murder suicide. I understand slayer deemed to have died first in these cases and victims family becomes heirs to everything. What happens to skaters debt, and who pays slayers funeral expenses?

James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr. answered on May 24, 2020

The Virginia slayer statute does not address the slayer's debts or funeral expenses.

When a person dies, the debts become debts of the estate. Funeral expenses are normally paid by the next of kin.

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