Fiduciaries of estates must qualify before one of the circuit courts in Virginia. One should qualify in the court serving the place where the decedent permanently resided. Note that the location of a nursing home where the decedent last lived is generally not regarded as the permanent residence of the decedent and the decedent is presumed to reside where he last lived prior to entering the nursing home.1

If there is a will, the named executor, if living, must qualify or must formally renounce qualification. If there is no will, any heir may qualify 30 days after the decedent’s death. The sole heir or any heir with consent of the other heirs may qualify within 30 days of the decedent’s death.2

In the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, the prospective fiduciary should make an appointment with the Probate Division of the Clerk’s Office to qualify. The Probate Division is located in the Fairfax Judicial Center at 4110 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 401, Fairfax, Virginia 22030 and may be reached at (703) 246-4153.

The prospective fiduciary should bring the original will, if any, any codicils, and a certified copy of the death certificate to the appointment. At the probate appointment, the fiduciary will need to have an estimate of the value of the decedent’s personal assets, and an estimate of the value of any interest in Virginia real estate in the decedent’s sole name as of the date of death. In addition, the fiduciary must provide a list of heirs, including names, ages, addresses and relationship to the decedent.3

If the prospective fiduciary is not a resident of Virginia, he should arrange for a Virginia resident to accompany him to the appointment. A nonresident fiduciary must appoint a resident agent to be served with legal papers on his behalf. A resident agent should forward all legal papers and other correspondence regarding the estate to the fiduciary. A nonresident fiduciary may also wish to have a Virginia resident qualify with him to avoid requirement for a surety bond.4 Please note that a Virginia resident who qualifies with the nonresident fiduciary is equally liable for administration of the estate. If the duties are not faithfully carried out, each fiduciary will be subject to enforcement proceedings.

There are charges which the fiduciary should be prepared to pay at the appointment. The fiduciary must generally advance these costs from his funds. The Clerk’s office accepts MasterCard and Visa with a 4% processing fee for each credit card transaction. Clerk’s fees are a proper expense of the estate, therefore, the fiduciary may be reimbursed for such costs.

If all is in order, the clerk will administer the oath of office to the fiduciary, establish the amount of the fiduciary’s bond (and whether any surety is required) and will issue certificates of qualification to the fiduciary.

  1. Va. Code Ann. § 64.2-443.B.
  2. Va. Code Ann. § 64.2-502.
  3. Va. Code Ann. § 64.2-509.
  4. Va. Code Ann. §§ 64.2-1419; 64.2-1426 to 64.2-1432; 64.2-426 to 64.2-427.