Estates of Decedents



Estate administration involves the appointment by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of an administrator of an intestate estate or an executor of a testate estate to handle the settling of the decedent’s financial and legal affairs. This authorizes a person or appropriate company to take charge of all assets, pay all lawful claims against the estate and make proper distribution of the residue of the estate to the named beneficiaries under the will or to the heirs at law.


Probate and qualification are controlled by statutory rules and the practices of the Henrico County Circuit Court Clerk’s office. The Clerk’s office should be consulted on all qualification and/or probate procedures. (804-501-4316 or 804-501-4763).

The Commissioner’s office has no jurisdiction over probate and qualification, and we cannot therefore, answer your questions regarding that process, except for the information hereinafter set forth.


If the decedent died without a will which can be admitted to probate, he or she is said to have died intestate. You can be appointed as Administrator of the estate under the rules set forth in the Virginia Code, and the Code of Virginia specifies how the estate is to be administered and who the decedent’s “heirs at law” will be once the creditors are paid and administration is complete. 



If the decedent dies with a will which is offered and admitted to probate, he or she is said to have died testate. You can be appointed as Executor of the estate if nominated as such in the will, and the decedent’s probated will and Virginia law control how the estate is to be administered and the will specifies who will receive distributions as beneficiaries after the payment of lawful claims against the estate.


In both situations, the administrator or executor is required to execute a personal bond for the faithful performance of the duties as personal representative of the estate. In the intestate estate corporate surety on the personal bond is almost always additionally required, and you should make arrangements to have a representative from a corporate bonding company present when you qualify at the Clerk’s Office of the Henrico County Circuit Court. In the testate estate, surety is normally waived in the will. If not, a corporate surety will also be required.


Contact the probate section of the Henrico Circuit Court Clerk’s Office to schedule an appointment for probate and/or qualification. (804-501-4316; or 804-501-4763, or 501-5327) If you have questions about the probate and/or qualification process you should consult with an estate attorney. The Commissioner of Accounts office cannot advise you on probate and/or qualification.


Qualification of a personal representative after probate of a will is not always required. If the decedents’s assets pass by survivorship there is generally no need to qualify, only probate the will. Consult an estate administration attorney to make the proper determination.

Qualification as Administrator or Executor occurs at the Clerk’s Office of the Henrico County Circuit Court if the decedent’s place of residence was Henrico County. Qualification is by appointment made with the probate section of the Clerk’s office and you should call for the appointment once you have received the decedent’s death certificate (804-501-4763 or 804-501-4316).

The information contained within this website is intended to assist you with the difficult undertaking you assume by being appointed as the personal representative of a decedent’s estate. The information given to you by the deputy clerk at the time of qualification is extremely important and valuable to you in completing your duties in a timely and proper manner. Please take a few moments to read and study the material once you have qualified. The forms given to you for Inventory and Accounts (and also available on this website) are required to be timely filed in a properly completed manner with the Office of the Commissioner of Accounts.

The instructions given to you in written form and contained in this website should provide the guidance needed to complete your task. If not, the employment of an estate attorney or a CPA qualified to handle estate administration may be necessary.


While this website is a very practical resource to assist you in the proper filing of your inventory and accounts, it is not extended as legal advice and will not take the place of sound legal advice if issues develop which require legal evaluation and consideration. Please use the website frequently, but consult with legal counsel when special circumstances or legal questions arise.