Commonwealth of Virginia

What are the probate procedures available?

Estate administration in Virginia usually takes a minimum of one year.

The named executor under the will of the decedent will have to make an appointment with the probate division of the circuit court where the decedent used to live.  Depending on the locality you should be able to get an appointment within less than two weeks.  If you are out of town, the probate division will often adjust to your schedule.

At the end of the meeting, which usually lasts one hour, you will be appointed executor of the estate.  You will need to bring a death certificate, the original Will (kept by the court), the list of heirs-at-law with their addresses, an estimate of the decedent assets, a piece of identification, and a checkbook to pay court costs.  You may have to call a bond company prior to your appointment if the bond is not waived in the will.  If you are out of state, you will have to select a resident agent.  Attorneys of Miorini Law PLLC are willing to serve as resident agents.

You will then receive your Letters of Administration, proof of your appointment and a booklet to assist you with your new duties:

  • Give notice of your appointment to the heirs-at-law within a month from your appointment and file a certificate of notice with the court
  • File an inventory of assets within four months of your appointment
  • File an accounting within sixteen months from your appointment unless you can file a “Statement in Lieu of an Account

Please note that the requirements for the preparation of the inventory and the accounting are very detail oriented with specific requirements.  Many executors end up calling Miorini Law for help after their inventory or accounting has been rejected by the Commissioner of Accounts.

What is the executors commission?

Compensation for an executor in Virginia is the sole discretion of the court which has jurisdiction over the estate.  As a general guideline, an executor is entitled to whatever fee is fixed by the will.  Where a specific fee was not fixed, the courts have considered reasonable a fee equal to 5% of the assets.  This could be reduced to a 2.5% commission, where the executor was not entitled to sell the real property of the estate, but only to deliver it in kind.

While there is no specific rate set by statute in Virginia, many jurisdictions have established guidelines for determining an executor’s commission, based on the complexity of the estate, the responsibilities assumed by the executor, and the amount and type of professional services required to administer the estate.  For example, the Commissioner of Accounts of Fairfax County has established guidelines for executor commissions, which are published on its website.  In general, these guidelines allow for an executor’s commission as follows:

  • On income: 5% of income receipts (not including capital gains) realized during each accounting period.
  • On principal: A fee based upon the inventory value, including amended inventories, of the decedent’s probate assets in accordance with the following schedule:

First $400,000.00

Next $300,000.00

Next $300,000.00

Balance over $1,000,000.00

Balance over $10,000,000.00
By agreement with the Commissioner
(prior consultation is required)

The Fairfax County website includes further details regarding executor’s commissions.  Note that such compensation may be increased or decreased at the Commissioner of Accounts’ sole discretion, based on various factors.  Executors are not required to wait until the estate is closed to take their compensation, however, compensation may be forfeited if the proper account is not timely filed.

Reasonable fees for attorneys, accountants and/or investment advisors may be reimbursed if necessary for the proper administration of the estate.  However, if an executor chooses to use an attorney or accountant for the basic administration of the estate, this may be deducted from the executor’s commission, depending on a number of factors considered by the Commissioner of Accounts.

What are the Deadlines for probate in Virginia?

The date of your appointment triggers all of the filing deadlines with the court and the Commissioner of Accounts.

Deadlines for Probate in Virginia

For further information regarding Probate and Estate or Trust Administratation, please call Miorini Law, PLLC at (703) 448-6121 or send an email to