Probate

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What is probate?

Probate is the procedure whereby a will is admitted to record in the clerk’s office, or the process of qualifying a person as executor or administrator of an estate. 

It is necessary to probate an estate when the decedent has solely-held assets; that is, assets that do not have a joint or co-owner with rights of survivorship, a beneficiary (on the security or account, not in the will), or pay-on-death designee.  Assets include real property, personal property, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, life insurance and other types of securities.

 

What is the probate process?

To probate an estate in West Virginia, you must go to the county clerk’s probate office located in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death.  Your initial visit to open an estate MUST BE IN PERSON.  For your convenience, we recommend that you call ahead and schedule an appointment with one of our two probate clerks.

Lynn Fields , Deputy Probate Clerk                            Karen Olden, Deputy Probate Clerk
(304) 728-3210                                                       (304) 728-3230
 lfields@jeffersoncountywv.org                                   kolden@jeffersoncountywv.org


In order to be appointed as personal representative of a decedent’s estate you will need to bring the following information with you.

Probating WITH a will:

  • a certified copy of the death certificate if the decedent died out of state OR a copy of the death certificate if the decedent died in West Virginia
  • the ORIGINAL last will and testament and/or codicil(s) if there is one
  • names and mailing addresses of all beneficiaries (individuals named in the will)
  • the approximate value of all personal property held SOLELY in the decedent’s name excluding real estate
  • fees to open an estate may vary, however, fees are typically between $80-$100 


Probating WITHOUT a will

  • a certified copy of the death certificate if the decedent died out of state OR a copy of the death certificate if the decedent died in West Virginia
  • names and mailing address of heirs at law (spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc)
  • the approximate value of all personal property held SOLELY in the decedent’s name excluding real estate
  • fees to open an estate may vary, however, fees are typically between $80-$100 and additional bonding fees may apply
  • In cases where there is no will, you will need to be bonded.There are two ways you can accomplish this.
    • Bring someone in with you that owns real estate in Jefferson County to sign a property bond OR
    • Apply to be bonded through an insurance company.The probate office can assist you in applying for a bond through an insurance company.If you are an out of state resident, you must be bonded through an insurance company.There are additional fees for an insurance bond.

     Credit Cards 2
*A service fee of 2.5% ($2.00 minimum) of the total charge will apply for all credit card transactions.

 

 

Probate Terms & Definitions

Administrator: the person appointed by and qualified before the clerk to administer the decedents estate when there is no will, or when the will does not name an executor or names an executor who for some reason does not serve


Administrator CTA ("Cum Testamento Annexo" or "with the will annexed"):
an administrator of the estate other than the named executor in a will who serves when all named executors are unable to serve due to death, incapacity or renunciation of their right to serve

Ancillary Administration: the administration of a decedent's estate in a state other than the one in which they lived, for the purpose of disposing of property owned there

Beneficiary: a person or organization entitled to receive a portion of the estate

Bond: a written document in which the obligor formally recognizes an obligation to pay money in the event the obligor does not properly perform his or her duties

Certificate of Qualification: the form that the personal representative receives from the clerk at the time of qualification; it states that a person has qualified as executor or administrator and has authority to act on behalf of the estate; it is sometimes referred to as Letters Testamentary

Codicil: a supplement or an addition to a will which may explain, modify, add to, subtract from, qualify, alter, restrain, or revoke provisions in an existing will

Creditor: a person or organization owed money by the decedent

Decedent: the deceased person

Estate: the decedent's property, including real estate, personal property and all other assets owned or controlled by decedent at the time of his/her death

Executor: the person named in decedent's will to administer the estate; to accept the appointment, the executor must qualify before the clerk

Fiduciary: a person in a position of trust with respect to another's property; a general term used to refer to executor, administrator or trustee

Heirs at Law: a person(s) who would inherit the decedent's estate if the decedent died without a will

Holographic Will: a will written entirely by the testator with his own hand and not witnessed/attested

Intestate Estate: an estate to be administered without a will

Inventory: a detailed list of articles; a list or schedule of property containing designation or description of such specific article

Personal Representative: either the executor or the administrator of the estate

Probate: the procedure whereby a will is admitted to record in the clerk's office; it is also used to include the process of qualifying a person as an executor or administrator of an estate; it sometimes is referred to as the entire process of administering an estate

Qualification: the procedure whereby a person is appointed by the clerk to serve as executor or administrator of a decedent's estate

Self-Proved Will: a will that includes a notarized affidavit of the testator and attesting witnesses (see Virginia Code §64.1-87.1 & Virginia Code §64.1-87.2, as amended, for specific language)

Testator: one who dies leaving a will

Testate Estate: an estate to be administered pursuant to a will

Will: a written document that gives instructions on how a person wants his or her property distributed after death