Wills and Estate Administration
Probate and Estate Assistance
Probate involves determining the validity of a decedent's will, recording it as appropriate, and qualifying the appropriate person(s) as personal representative(s) to manage the estate whether a valid will exists or not. Learn more about probate in Virginia at the Supreme Court of Virginia.
There are several reasons why a will should be probated (or recorded), including, but not limited to, that there may be assets that need to be administered by a personal representative (i.e., assets in the decedent's name alone, not held jointly with a right of survivorship); the decedent may have owned real estate in Chesterfield or elsewhere, either alone or jointly with someone; and the will, once probated, would become a matter of public record, thereby serving as a formal genealogical link to the decedent's family. By recording the will, it becomes a permanent record available for review by family members as well as potential beneficiaries and creditors.
Probate Appointments Required
Record a Will or Qualify as Personal Representative
To record a will and/or to qualify an Executor or Administrator of a decedent’s estate, you must contact the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office in the jurisdiction in which the decedent resided at the time of death. Probate/estate matters are handled by appointment.
The personal representative (Executor or Administrator) of an estate is charged by law with numerous responsibilities. It is the legal obligation of the personal representative to fully understand and discharge his/her required duties. Further details may be obtained from the Chesterfield Circuit Court Clerk and Chesterfield County’s Commissioner of Accounts. An attorney or an accountant can provide assistance as well.
The Commissioner of Accounts is an attorney commissioned by the Circuit Court Judges to oversee the actions of fiduciaries and is responsible for reviewing and approving inventories and accountings. This office is not in the Courts Building but is in an office building in close proximity to the courthouse.
Commissioner of Accounts
Bryan K. Selz, Esq.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 998, Chesterfield, VA 23832
Physical Address: 9512 Ironbridge Road, Suite 110, Chesterfield, VA 23832
Scheduling a Probate Appointment
Before visiting the Circuit Court, contact the Probate Division by email or calling 804-706-7680. Full probate and qualification matters are handled by appointment only. Appointments will not be scheduled until all necessary information has been provided to Probate staff in advance.
View estate forms available through the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Probate Appointment Checklist (PDF). To provide an estimate of the fees/requirements for probate and/or qualification of an Administrator/Executor, at a minimum, we would need the following in advance of scheduling:
- Your contact information (name, address, phone number, email address).
- Name, address and date of birth for all individual(s) wishing to serve as Executor or Administrator (if any).
- Full names and addresses of heirs (surviving spouse or closest living relatives).
- Copy of the Last Will and Testament/Codicil(s), if any. The original Will/Codicils will need to be presented at the probate appointment (and retained by the Clerk at that time). The copy is needed for advanced review to ensure that the Will was executed in compliance with VA law. Do not write on the original will.
- Copy of the death certificate.
- Estimated Estate Value - The estate value estimate should include assets that were titled in the decedent’s name alone at the date of death. It should not include any items that have a named beneficiary or a payable on death designation. If assets are held jointly with a right of survivorship, those assets would be excluded from the estate as well. The Estate Asset Worksheet (XLSX) is provided as a template.
- Real Estate Affidavit Form (PDF) pursuant to Code of VA § 64.2-510, which is typically used when a decedent who did not have a Will owned only real estate and the heirs wish to update the Chesterfield County land records to reflect the land owner's death.
This information can be provided by email (PDF attachments preferred), by fax 804-717-6797, or by drop off copies placed in an envelope (addressed ATTN: Probate Division) with the Clerk's Office (8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays).
If bringing physical documents, do not provide the original Will/Codicil(s) at this time, only a copy. Safeguard the original Will/Codicil(s) until such time that a probate appointment is scheduled.
After the information you’ve submitted has been received and reviewed, a Probate staff member will contact you to advise as to next steps in relation to scheduling.
Fees and Taxes
- State probate tax - $1/$1000 value of probate assets
- Recordation of will/Clerk's Order - $18 up to 10 pages
- Recordation of list of heirs - $18
- Transfer fee - $1 (if decedent had interest in Chesterfield real estate)
- Clerk's fee - $0-$30, assessed based on estate value
- Certificate of qualification - $2 each (two included in base fee)
Bonds and Surety
A bond is a written promise that one will faithfully perform their 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 qualified as Executor or Administrator properly administers the assets of the estate, which 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/insurance company. The company must have the authority to execute bonds and the agent must provide his/her power of attorney at the time of the qualification appointment. A premium proportionate to the value of the estate is paid to the bonding company.
If it is determined that surety on a bond is required, a bonding or insurance company should be contacted to act as surety. You may contact your own insurance agent to inquire if they post fiduciary (Executor/Administrator) bonds. The Clerk’s Office can provide a list of known companies that may be able to assist.