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County-Arlington Probate

Probate is the process of handling a decedent's estate. It may include probating a will,

If there is one, and the appointment of someone as Executor orAdministrator to handle things.Probate must take place in the county or city where the decedent last resided.

If the decedent was in a nursing home, probate would usually take place where they resided prior to entering the nursing home.

Arlington Circuit Court jurisdiction would include anyone residing in Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. Probate is not mandatory. The estate may not need to be probated if the decedent:held their entire assets joint with survivorship with someone, or held everything in a living trust. Probate assets would only include things held solely in the decedent's name alone with no beneficiary listed.

To probate a will, the Clerk must have:the original will - a copy is not acceptable. The will either must have:a self-proving clause at the end (meaning the witnesses and the  testator signed before a Notary Public and it contains the proper language), or the witnesses to the will need to testify. This can be done by:
obtaining an affidavit from the Clerk, andhaving the witnesses sign before a Notary Public, or appear in person before the Clerk.

The will should name someone as Executor.  The Clerk can only appoint this person to handle the estate. If the named Executor is deceased or does not wish to qualify, the duty would fall to the next named Executor. 
If the will does not name anyone else, the Clerk has the authority to appoint someone. If the named Executor does not wish to qualify, they must sign an affidavit before a Notary  giving up their right to qualify.
If someone dies without a will, the legal heirs have the first right to qualify. 

The Clerk cannot appoint one heir without all the other heirs agreeing in writing for the first 30 days after death.
After 30 days, the Clerk can appoint any heir without agreement of the other heirs. After 60 days, the Clerk may use discretion to appoint anyone requesting it without agreement of the heirs.

Posting a surety bond

If the probate assets are more than $15,000.00 and the person qualifying is a non-resident, they will need to post a surety bond. A surety bond may also be required if the person qualifying is a Virginia resident but there is a will which does not waive the need for the surety bond or if there is no will and the person qualifying is not the sole heir. If a 

surety bond is needed, arrangements will need to be made with a bonding company before coming in to probate the estate. If the person qualifying is a non-Virginia resident, they will need to have someone  in Virginia act as their registered Agent. They may do this by having the Virginia residents sign an affidavit in front of the Clerk or in front of a Notary Public.

Probate is done by appointment.

The Circuit Court makes probate appointments Monday - Thursdaybetween 9-11 a.m., and
between 1-3 p.m. The appointment will take approximately 30 minutes. To make an appointment, please call the Clerk's office at 703-228-4376.

At the time of the appointment, the person who is going to qualify as Executor or Administrator must:

  • appear in person,
  • bring with them the original will, if there is one,
  • a certified copy of the death certificate,
  • an estimate of the value of the assets which are passing through probate,
  • the names and addresses of all legal heirs,
  • a current picture of identification, and
  • a check for the probate costs.
Probate costs

Probate costs vary depending on the size of the estate and what is being filed.
State probate tax: $0.10 per $100.00. Local probate tax: 1/3 of the state probate tax
Transfer fee: $1.00 for each parcel of Arlington/City of Falls Church real estate 
being transferred.

Qualification & recordation fees: usually around $78.00 but it is based on the size of the estate andthe documents being recorded. They may also need to bring a bondsman, witness to the will if not self-proving, etc., if required.

The office is located in the Courthouse (which is called the Justice Center), Room 6300, 1425 N. Courthouse Road, Arlington, Virginia 22201 (transportation & parking information).

Attribution to Arlington Probate Court, Last Modified: December 18, 2009