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Virginia Probate Questions & Answers
2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My stepsister sold house that my dad and her mom owned together without permission from her stepsiblings. No will. Ok?

Dad died in 12/2020 and her mom died early 2022. To my knowledge neither had a will. They live in Virginia.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on May 7, 2022

You might want a consultation with a Virginia lawyer to review the matter, but if the house was owned by dad and step-mom by entireties, and dad died first, the house belonged solely to step-mom when she died. I would think in a second marriage, the parties would title their home better, use a... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: What process is there for reviewing an executor's actions for illegality after the estate has been closed? It is in VA.

I suspect the executor, my older brother, stole money from my mother's estate during his 4 year executorship. We trusted him and didn't question expenses until the final accounting showed in the last year he spent large sums, giving us only general labels, such as "trip to... Read more »

Scott Scherr
Scott Scherr
answered on Apr 20, 2022

You need to speak with a Virginia attorney about this. You should do so as soon as possible since there may be time deadlines for you to act.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law, Collections and Probate for Virginia on
Q: When a resident of Chesterfield , VA dies, never married or had any children, are medical bills automatically wiped off?

The decedent passed away in 2021 and we were told that the medical bills had to be paid off regardless of the passing away.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Mar 15, 2022

Yes, the bills have to be paid ... but not by you. The creditors may file a probate estate for the decedent and/or file a claim in an existing estate, and they may get paid from the estate assets. Far more rarely, if the medical treatment was "necessary," which medical treatment is... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My grandparents passed away intestate years ago in Virginia. My mom & uncle, the only children of my grandparents,

Decide to move together into the home left by my grandparents . The home had no mortgages & they split the bills & taxes evenly.Switching the deed of the home over was done easily at the courthouse where my grandparents names were removed and their children's were added in their... Read more »

Shafeek Seddiq
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Shafeek Seddiq
answered on Feb 18, 2022

It all depends on the deed, it could go to your mom by right of survivorship, or after probate, either you mom buys out the heir(s) of your uncle or sells/partition. However, the best option is to take the recorded deed to the probate, estate, real estate lawyer nearest your mom to review and... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My aunt's husband passed away and there was unpaid credit card debt. Does she owe this if it is not in her name?

What do we do if it's not in her name and only her deceased husbands name? There is one credit card that she is a joint user for. We have gotten death certificates so far but nothing else.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Feb 10, 2022

The wife is not liable for credit card debt she did not contract to pay by being on the card or using the card. She may be liable if the charges were for something the law calls necessaries, like medical care, food, clothing, and other needs of her spouse, but that is liability for the necessary... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: I had a co-tenant safety deposit box with my mother. She passed away. The bank called and had me close the box and

Stated that the Contents belonged to me. Now I’m being threatened with a law suit that the contents go to the estate. I’m in Virginia. Is co-tenant the same as co-owner in Virginia? Who owns the contents?

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Feb 2, 2022

It is more complex than that, but could easily have been resolved if specified in a proper Will. If the reason you were a co-tenant on the box was for the convenience of your mother, then the box belongs to the estate. Basically, the law interprets your role as one of a trustee of something called... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Do I have to return my husband’s inherited property to his siblings after his death?

My father in law passed in 2013. His home and belongings stayed empty for 2 years before my husband, our young children and me bought out his siblings for the home. Before us moving in, the siblings and husband, split up their fathers belongings. My husband passed away in 2020 and the deed to our... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Dec 18, 2021

As I understand the facts, your father-in-law passed in 2013, and the personalty in the estate was divided among the heirs and the estate closed. Around 2015, you and your husband bought the house and its contents, and they belonged to him or both of you. Your husband passed in 2020, and now his... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: If an executor of an estate fails to perform his duties and all property sits unclaimed for years, can heirs claim it?

My ‘well to do’ great-great aunt died in 2005 with a will naming her nephew as executor, he and his wife as beneficiaries, and my father as an heir. This nephew died intestate in 2003. His wife died in 2005, five months after my g-g aunt. 2 months prior to wife’s death she appointed a friend... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Oct 22, 2021

Your description is too imprecise to render an opinion, but it sounds like you need a probate attorney licensed in Virginia to re-open the estate of Wife. I don't understand from your description what Father's rights are. You call him an heir, but you tell me that the sole beneficiaries... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: After being married to and living with a man for 8 years we separated but did not get divorced. We had 2 boys.

We never lived together again. 10 years after we separated he had a heart attack, suffered brain damage, and had to be put in a home for 10 year. He recently passed away. All he has left is about $330K in his IRA. While incapacitated his mother created a will leaving all money to his sons and... Read more »

James H. Wilson Jr.
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James H. Wilson Jr.
answered on Oct 10, 2021

Property often transfers at death through nonprobate transfers, including survivorship on title, beneficiary designations on accounts, payable on death bank accounts (POD), and transfer on death investment accounts (TOD). Nevertheless, such transfers are still subject to legal requirements of... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My Mother in law willed her home to all 6 of her children. Her eldest son died having only a wife no children. His wife

Just died in the middle of the sale of the home. My mother in laws will states that if any of her children that do not have children their part goes back to the other children. Can my sister in law will her part of inherited land that was willed to her husband from his mother to her sister or does... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
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Nina Whitehurst
answered on Aug 27, 2021

The exact timing matters and the exact wording of the will matters too. There is not enough information here to answer your question. You should schedule a consultation with a probate attorney.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Elder Law and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Can a trustee legally represent a beneficiary in court and be her attorney? From any false accusations from her sibling

My question: Is a trustee (also an attorney) allowed to legally represent and defend a beneficiary in court and be her attorney if there are any possible future legal suits against this beneficiary from her litigious jealous sister? For example: for medical neglect? The trustee is NOW the new... Read more »

F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof
answered on Jun 25, 2021

I regret that I do not handle matters that involve Trusts and/or Trustees. Sorry.

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant and Probate for Virginia on
Q: If my attorney representing me while in probate is representing a client renting

My tenant is in default of there lease which my attorney wrote who is my attorney obligated to

F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof
answered on Jun 2, 2021

In Virginia, an attorney cannot ethically represent two clients who are in a conflict of interest. In that case, the attorney must withdraw from the representation of both clients.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: What happens to a car loan when a cosigner dies?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on May 24, 2021

As long as the loan continues to be paid timely, nothing happens. If it is not paid, the lender enforces against the living signer and tries to enforce against the deaf citizens-signer. Upon learning of the demise, they may proceed to file a claim in the probate estate.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Family member in Alexandria VA. Not sure if he will survive. Don't know if has a will. need advice

Do I need to hire attorney to represent our family and handle the estate? If he passes away we do not know anything about life insurance or burial insurance but we will have to pay the bill for the funeral because we do not know any thing about his finances etc.

Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart
answered on May 21, 2021

I am sorry for your situation.

I always recommend consulting an attorney for an estate - depending on the estate we can save the family money and keep them from making mistakes in handling the estate. Consult a probate lawyer.

There's usually no hurry when someone passes...
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2 Answers | Asked in Criminal Law, Civil Litigation and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Is it unusual for a judge to do searches on the internet of the Plaintiff and defendant in cases they hear?
F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof
answered on May 10, 2021

I do not handle criminal law matters. Sorry.

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: How soon can one take over a property that was willed to them?

father left me lifetime rights to a property in his will, but he was married & step mother just passed Jan 27 this year , I was not notified of her death , & have not been contacted or told anything , online property GIS says it willed , step brother was left in charge of over seeing things

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Apr 5, 2021

It sounds like you need a lawyer to review the deed and the will. In Virginia law, title to real estate often passes immediately on death.

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
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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.

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