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Fiduciary Qualification
Is Qualification Necessary?

Virginia Estate Law - Qualification

What is Qualification?
Is Qualification Necessary?
Virginia Qualification Procedure
Fiduciary Duties & Liability
List of Heirs
Notice of Probate

There may be instances where qualification of a personal representative for a decedent's estate is not necessary. This determination requires a careful review of the assets and circumstances in each case.

If all or substantially all of the assets in which the decedent had an interest at the time of death will pass to joint owners by survivorship, qualification may not be necessary.

For example, a husband and wife own their home as tenants by the entirety with right of survivorship (as stated in the deed), their bank accounts are set up as joint accounts with right of survivorship, they have retirement accounts or life insurance identifying the other spouse as death beneficiary, and they have one automobile titled in both names.

If the husband dies and is survived by his wife, there may be no need for qualification of a personal representative to administer this estate. The home, bank accounts, insurance and retirement accounts will pass by survivorship or be payable upon the husband's death to the wife. Also, the spouse should have no problem having title to the automobile placed in her name only.

If there are assets solely in the name of the decedent at time of death, qualification will likely be necessary in order for the personal representative to take the steps, including perhaps sale, of the assets, in order to distribute the assets to the proper heirs or beneficiaries.

There are a number of Virginia statutes related to smaller estates (under $50,000), which address transfer of certain assets, such as automobiles, watercraft, and bank accounts with relatively small balances to the proper heirs or beneficiaries without qualification of a personal representative.

Even if, as in the example above, assets can be transferred without qualification of a personal representative, there still may be practical reasons for qualification.

For example, if there are numerous estate debts, or if the estate is insolvent (the estate assets are not sufficient to pay debts of the decedent) it may be more efficient for a personal representative to qualify and deal with the creditors in a more consolidated manner though the estate administration process.

Obtaining legal advice early regarding the necessity for probate and/or qualification can be very helpful in determining the most advantageous approach to handling the estate.

Qualification Procedure >>>

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