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Usually an application to initiate probate is filed by the personal representative named in the Will, or in the case where there is no Will, the person, often a family member, who is willing to come forward. If the personal representative is named in the Will he or she is called the Executor. If the representative is not named in the Will he or she is called the Administrator. The application involves a formal process usually before the local probate Clerk. The personal representative may be required to post a bond.
All the natural heirs of the decedent are given written notice of the proceedings. There are also procedures for identifying and notifying creditors of the estate. It may be necessary for the personal representative to file an income tax return for any years in which the decedent had taxable income but did not file a return. Under some circumstances it may be necessary to file a fiduciary return if the estate generates sufficient income of its own. The personal representative must report to the Court regarding the assets of the estate by filling an inventory and must account for all financial transactions of the estate.