Probate & Wills

The probate process handles a decedent’s estate and:

  • May include probating a will, if one exists
  • Includes appointing someone as the estate’s executor or administrator

Probate must take place in the county or city of the decedent’s last residence

  • The Arlington Circuit Court jurisdiction includes individuals who reside in Arlington County or the City of Falls Church.
  • Iif the decedent’s last residence was a nursing home, probate usually takes place at the decedent’s residence prior to the nursing home.

Probate is not mandatory if the decedent either:

  • Held all assets joint with survivorship of someone. Assets only include items held solely in the decedent’s name alone without a listed beneficiary.
  • Held all assets in a living trust

Wills & Executors

The Clerk of the Circuit Court only can probate an original will (copies are unacceptable), which must have either:

  • A self-proving clause at the end (i.e., the witnesses and the testator signed before a notary public, and it contains the proper language)
  • Testimony from the will’s witnesses obtained through an affidavit from the Clerk and having the witnesses either sign before a notary public or appear in person before the Clerk.

If a will’s named executor is deceased or does no’t wish to qualify, the duty falls to the next named executor. If the will does not name anyone else, only the Clerk has the authority to appoint someone as the executor.

  • If the named executor does not wish to qualify, the executor must sign an affidavit before a notary, giving up the right to qualify.
  • If someone dies without a will, the legal heirs have the first right to qualify.

The Clerk cannot appoint one heir without all the other heirs agreeing in writing for the first 30 days after death.

  • After 30 days, the Clerk can appoint any heir without agreement of the other heirs.
  • After 60 days, the Clerk may use discretion to appoint anyone requesting it without an agreement of the heirs.

Surety Bond Postings

  •  If you are an estate’s qualifying individual and a nonresident of Arlington/City of Falls Church, and the probate assets total more than $25,000, you must post a surety bond.
  • If you’re the qualifying individual and a nonresident of Virginia, you must have a Virginia resident act as your registered agent, who must sign an affidavit either in front of the Clerk or a notary public.
  • If you’re a Virginia resident, but the will doesn’t waive the need for the surety bond, or if a will doesn’t exist and you’re not the sole heir, then a surety bond may also be required.
  • If you need a surety bond, you must make arrangements with a bonding company before  the Clerk can probate the estate.

Probate Appointments & Fees

The Clerk of the Circuit Court handles probates by appointments only from Mon.-Thu.

  • Probate appointments take approximately 30-45 minutes.
  • To make a probate appointment, you can call the Clerk’s Office at 703-228-4376.

If you plan to qualify as an executor or administrator, you must bring to your appointment:

  • The original will, if one exists
  • A certified copy of the death certificate
  • A value estimate of the assets passing through probate
  • The names and addresses of all legal heirs
  • A current photo I.D.
  • A check for the probate fees

If required, you also may need to bring a bondsman, a witness to the will if it is not self-proving, etc.
Probate fees vary depending on the estate’s size and what the qualifying individual plans to file:

  • State probate tax: $0.10 per $100.00
  • Local probate tax: 1/3 of the state probate tax
  • Transfer fee: $1.00 for each parcel of Arlington/City of Falls Church real estate to be transferred
  • Qualification and recordation fees: Approximately $78.00

Probate appointments take place at:
Arlington County Circuit Court
1425 N. Courthouse Rd., Room 6300
Arlington, VA 22201

Cell phones are not allowed in Courthouse. See Security Precautions