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County-Prince William County

Location: Judicial CenterRoom 314, 9311 Lee Avenue, Manassas, Virginia 20110

Probate Appointments: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Phone: 703-792-5587      E-mail:

The Circuit Court Clerk's Probate Office handles wills and probate of estates, guardian appointments and qualifications on Court Orders for appointment of Conservators of incapacitated individuals are also done by the probate Clerk. An appointment is needed. For probate call 703-792-6029 to schedule an appointment. At that probate appointment the Clerk will discuss and inform you of all the necessary paperwork and information needed to establish the probate. The appointment will take approximately 45 minutes to one hour. A bondsman may be needed at any probate hearing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is 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 or Administrator to handle things. 
Where should probate take place?
Virginia has no separate probate court. The will should be probated in the circuit court of the city or county where the deceased resided. Usually the Clerk of the Circuit Court or a deputy clerk handles the probate of wills and the circuit court judge is not involved. However, any person interested in the will may appeal to the judge within six months of the order of the clerk admitting a will to probate.
If the decedent was in a nursing home, probate would usually take place where they resided prior to entering the nursing home. Prince William County Circuit Court jurisdiction would include anyone residing in the County of Prince William and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.
Is Probate mandatory?
Probate is not mandatory. If the decedent held their entire assets joint with survivorship with someone or held everything in a living trust, the estate may not need to be probated. Probate assets would only include things held solely in the decedent's name alone with no beneficiary listed.
What is needed to probate a will?
In order to probate a will, the Clerk must have the original. 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 a deposition from the Clerk and having 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 a personal representative. If the named Executor does not wish to qualify, they must sign an affidavit before a Notary giving up their right to qualify.
What happens if someone dies without a will?
If someone dies without a will, the legal heirs have the first right to qualify. That means 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. If the probate assets are more than $15,000.00, and the person is a non-resident or if there are other heirs, 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.

What happens at the first appointment?
Probate is done by appointment. At the time of the appointment the person who is going to qualify as Executor or Administrator must appear in person. He or she must bring 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 vary depending on the size of the estate and what is being filed.

How do I estimate the estate value?
Include all property (real and personal) that was in the decedent's name alone at the time of his/her death. Do not include property held jointly with a right of survivorship or property payable to a named beneficiary (e.g., life insurance policies with a named beneficiary). Include tangible personal property as well as intangible assets (e.g., stocks, bonds, etc.). Estimate the fair market value of the assets as of the decedent's date of death. DO NOT DEDUCT debts owed, loans, or mortgage amounts. Compute separate totals for personal property and real property.
What is bond? What is surety? 
A bond is a written promise that one will faithfully perform his/her duties as Executor or Administrator. The bond is set at an amount greater than the estate value and is payable to the Commonwealth of Virginia. A bond issued on behalf of an estate ensures that the person appointed as Administrator or Executor properly administers the assets of the estate. This, in turn, safeguards the interests of creditors, heirs, beneficiaries and the Commonwealth as their interests relate to the estate. If neither the will nor Virginia law waive surety on a bond, surety will need to be posted on the bond. Surety has the effect of insuring the bond, should it become payable. Most often, surety or security is obtained through a bonding company. The company must have the authority to execute bonds in this Court. A premium proportionate to the value of the estate is paid to the bonding company.

How do I arrange for surety?
If it is determined that surety on a bond is required, a bonding company should be contacted to act as surety. A listing of bonding and/or insurance companies that provide for fiduciary bonds may be found in the local telephone directory, or you may contact the probate office for this information.

Office hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays

What are the basic duties of an executor or administrator? 
The duties begin with taking possession of the deceased person's property over which the fiduciary (executor or administrator) has control. The fiduciary must determine the assets and liabilities of the estate. The payments of debts, and then, according to the direction of the will and the laws of the State of Virginia, the sale of or distribution of the property must be accomplished. The fiduciary must also give written notice of qualification or probate to the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate within 30 days after qualification. Generally, the fiduciary must file a complete inventory of the assets in the estate within four months of qualification with the Commissioner of Accounts (a local person appointed by the Circuit Court to oversee and ensure that estates are properly handled.) Finally, the fiduciary must make an accounting with the Commissioner of Accounts on a yearly basis until a final accounting can be made. Often, a first and final accounting can be made at the conclusion of the first year following qualification.
What are the definitions of some of the commonly used words?

The following definitions are from the Virginia Court Clerks’ Association Probate and Estate Administration Manual
Executor - The person named in the decedent's will to administer the estate who accepts appointment by qualifying before the Clerk. 
Administrator - The person appointed by and qualified before the Clerk to administer the [intestate] decedent's estate. 
Trustee - Person holding property in trust. One in whom an estate, interest or power is vested. 
Decedent - The deceased person. 
Heirs - Persons who would inherit the decedent's estate if the decedent died without a will. 
Beneficiary - The person or organization entitled to receive a portion of the estate. 
Fiduciary - A person in a position of trust with respect to another's property; a general term used to refer to an executor, administrator or trustee. 
Self-Proving - Acknowledgement of the testator and the affidavits of attesting witnesses, made before an officer authorized to administer oaths. 
Qualification - Procedure whereby a person is appointed by the Clerk to serve as executor or administrator of a decedent's estate. 
Testate - Dying with a will. 
Intestate - Dying without a will. 
Certificate of Qualification - (Also called Letters of Testamentary) Formal instrument of authority and appointment given to a fiduciary by the proper court, empowering him or her to act in the capacity of a fiduciary.


 Probate in Virginia, Edited by Michèle B. McQuigg, Clerk, Prince William County Circuit Court

Estate tax fees are based on the amount of the estate at one tenth of one percent or one dollar per thousand. The recording and probate fees are also based on the amount of the estate.
Qualification fees in accordance with Virginia Code § 17.1-275 (1) (2) (3)

 Estates of $5,000.00 or less $0
 Estates not exceeding $50,000.00 $20.00
 Estates not exceeding $100,000.00 $25.00
 Estates exceeding $100,000.00 $30.00

In addition, for recording and indexing a Will; Affidavit of Intestacy/List of Heirs; Inventories and Accountings; Affidavit of Notice of Probate; Disclaimers

 10 or fewer pages $15.00 plus 1.00 = $16.00
 11 to 30 pages $30.00
 31 or more pages $50.00
 Updated Letters of Qualification (clerk fee) $2.00
 Copies .50 cents per page

Note: If there is real estate, a $1.00 transfer fee is collected per transfer under Virginia Code §§ 58.1-3314.158.1-3315. The transfer fee is designated to Prince William County, City of Manassas or City of Manassas Park.

State Probate Tax is calculated on both real and personal estate IN THE DECEDENT'S NAME ONLY at one tenth of one percent or $1.00 per thousand, 10 cents on a hundred dollars or any portion thereof.

 Senior Citizens Handbook, Virginia State Bar

 A Guide to the Administration of Decedent’s Estates in Virginia, The Virginia Bar Association

 Information about an Employer Identification Number (EIN) needed to open an interest bearing estate bank account, Internal Revenue Service

 Virginia Department of Taxation

 Prince William County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (703-393-2306) can provide a 30-minute consultation with an attorney for a $35 fee.

 Public Law Library on the lower level of the Judicial Center.