After someone passes away, their estate must be distributed. The court-supervised process known as probate can help facilitate this. Probate is very common in the state of Virginia - in fact, it happens in many (but not every) cases of administering an estate. Yet, even though the probate process in Virginia is similar to other states around the country, there still seems to be many questions about it. A lot of times, those questions are largely about: what’s the average cost of probate in Virginia.
Despite the seemingly simple question, there really isn’t an easy answer. Probate costs can have a wide range, and that range will really just depend on things like:
The size and complexity of the estate
Whether or not heirs contest the Will
If there are any Estate Plans (like a Trust or a Will)
If a probate attorney is retained
Common Probate Fees in Virginia
Despite there being numerous potential probate costs, some fees are to be expected in most probate cases. If you’re going through probate, you’ll likely have to pay:
Administrator/Executor/Probate Bonds as required by county courts
Professional fees (I.E., Appraisers and Land Surveyors, etc.)
Any requested Fiduciary (Personal Representative) compensation - Virginia state law limits Fiduciary fees at a max of five percent (but it’s pretty common that compensation be treated similarly to reasonable compensations states)
Common Questions About Probate in Virginia
How Long Does Probate Take in Virginia?
Probate in Virginia can take six months to about a year to be settled - this is for an average estate. More complex and larger estates can take several years. The more basic and simple an estate is, the more quickly it can be handled.
How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost in Virginia?
Since probate lawyer fees in Virginia can range, it’s tough to give a solid, accurate dollar figure when discussing cost. Sometimes probate attorneys will bill by the hour, and other times they’ll charge a flat fee to handle a probate.
How to Avoid Probate in Virginia?
It’s common to want to avoid probate. It makes sense when you stop to think about the fact that it can be very stressful. Not to mention, expensive and complicated. If you’re hoping to avoid probate in Virginia, you may want to consider some of these strategies:
Establish a Revocable Living Trust
Title property in Joint Tenancy
Create TOD or POD (Transfer on Death; Payable on Death) assets/policies/accounts
Also, Virginia allows for a small estate Affidavit if an estate value is below a certain dollar amount (see below).
What is Considered a Small Estate in Virginia?
Virginia law states the small estate process can be used if an estate is worth less than $50,000 in value. This expedited process offers a fast solution to settling an estate, but it may not be utilized until at least 60 days after the decedent’s death.
Who Pays Probate Fees in Virginia?
Probate attorney fees in Virginia (just like all other probate fees) are paid for out of the estate, so no need to worry about coming up with the money in advance or on your own.