How to Probate a Small Estate in Virginia
Small Estate Limits for Virginia
In Virginia you can use an Affidavit if the value of the probate estate is $50,000 or less (Probate estate doesn't count assets that pass by beneficiary, like life insurance, and retirement, and assets held in joint tenancy).
Va. Code Ann 64.2-601.
For real estate, if there's no Will, heirs, or personal representative can record Affidavit setting out names of heirs: clerk will send abstract of the Affidavit to the revenue comissioner, then real estate can be transferred.
Va. Code Ann 64.2-510.
What's Included in valuing the estate?
Not everything a person owns is part of their "Estate" for probate purposes.
If you're wrapping up the estate of a Virginia resident who died with an estate that's worth less than a certain dollar amount, you won't have to go through a formal probate court proceeding.
It doesn't matter whether or not the deceased person left a will; what matters is the value of the assets left behind. If the estate's value is under the "small estates" limit in Virginia, you can take advantage of a simplified probate procedure, often called a "summary probate." Instead of having a court hearing in front of a judge, you may need only to file a simple form or two and wait for a certain amount of time before distributing the assets.
In some states, it can be even easier: Inheritors can use a simple affidavit to claim assets. (An affidavit is a statement you sign in front of a notary, swearing something is true.) If you live in one of those states, you just have to wait a required period of time, then sign a simple, sworn statement that no probate proceeding is happening in your state and that you are the person entitled to inherit a particular asset--a bank account, for example.
Adding it up, what's in, what's not
When you are trying to determine whether or not an estate's value is below the Virginia small estates limit, the first thing to do is make a list of the assets. A simple spreadsheet or list will do.
Not everything a person owns counts, though.
Include only the things that pass to heirs and beneficiaries by will or, if there's no will, by Virginia intestacy laws, which determine who inherits if there is no will.