Before reading this article, just a caveat.  If you are new to the lingo involved in trust and estate planning, you will benefit from first reading the article entitled “Help—Probate Seems Like A Foreign Language”, also posted in our Trust and Estates section.  

If you are ready to read on, here are some frequent questions regarding Probate in Chesterfield County, below. Thanks to the Chesterfield Circuit Court's Office for offering this material, included in their "Probate in Chesterfield County" pamphlet.  

Q. How do I determine where to probate the will or qualify as personal representative?

A. Jurisdiction is decided by the last place the deceased person lived.  If that place were a nursing home, jurisdiction would be the last place lived prior to the nursing home.


Q. How do I decide whether to have a Will probated or qualify as Executor or Administrator of an estate?

A. There are three main reasons why a Will should be probated or recorded:

            1. Assets exist that need to be administered by a personal representative (namely, assets in decedent’s name alone).

            2. The decedent owned real estate in his/her name or jointly.  (Many times, a form must be filed in order to update the Tax Assessor’s records). 

            3. When probated, the Will becomes a matter of public record, which could be helpful for future generations.  (Note that even if the decedent dies with a written Will, it is still recommended that the personal representative record the Will in the Circuit Court’s office, to make it a matter for public record). 


Q. Okay, I’m ready.  What are the steps necessary to probate a Will and/or qualify as personal representative of an estate in Chesterfield County?

A. You will need to call 804.748.1241 (ask for the Probate Division) to set up an appointment with the Circuit Court Clerk's Office. If there is a written Will, have the original with you when you call to make the appointment, as the Clerk or Deputy Clerk will ask you several questions surrounding the Will.  

Q. How is estate value determined?

A. Include ALL real and personal property held in the decedent’s name alone in the estimation, and keep separate totals of both. Real property includes real estate, buildings, and everything attached to those buildings, while personal property is everything else owned, such as furniture, cars, clothes, etc.). Do NOT include property held jointly or properties or accounts with a named beneficiary, such as life insurance policies.  Include tangible and intangible property, such as stocks, bonds, and other assets.  Estimate the market value of the assets at the date of the decedent’s death, without deducting any debts.


Q. What is bond?  And what is surety?

A. A bond is a written promise from the Executor or Administrator that he/she will rightly perform the assigned duties.  If that person violates the contract, he/she must pay the bond (greater than the estimated value of the estate) to the Commonwealth of Virginia. This process protects the interests of heirs, creditors, beneficiaries, and the Commonwealth in the estate.

Surety is a way of insuring the bond will be paid, if need be.  Typically, surety, also called security, is available through a bonding company that has authority to ensure fiduciary bonds in the Chesterfield area. These bondings/Insurance companies may be found online or in the local phone directory. 


Q. What fees, taxes, and costs will I need to pay upon probate or qualification?

A.         State probate tax                                        $.001 x value of probate assets

            Recordation of Will                                     $16.00 up to 10 pages (including the clerk's order)                                                                                               

            Recordation of list of heirs                         $16.00 (testate and intestate)

            Transfer fee                                                  $1.00/parcel (only if real estate involved)

            Clerk’s fee                                                    Sliding scale (maximum $30)

            Certification of qualification                       $2.00 each (one included in base fee)


Q. What should I bring with me to a probate appointment?

A.  Testate (with a Will) 

-Original Will (no copies)

-Certified copy of death certificate

-Witnesses to Will or depositions of witnesses, if not self-proving

-Approximate dollar value of probate assets

-Names, ages, and addresses of heirs at law

-Notarized renunciation of executor named in Will who does not wish to serve (if applicable)

-Cash or check to pay fees


Intestate (without a Will)

-Certified copy of death certificate

-Approximate dollar value of probate assets

- Names, ages, and addresses of heirs at law

-If within 30 days from date of death, consent of surviving spouse, or if none, consent of surviving heirs at law who do not wish to qualify

-Cash or check to pay fees


Q. After qualifying, whom should I contact if I have questions regarding my reporting responsibilities?  Whom should I contact when I am ready to close the estate?

A. Commissioner of Accounts

Bryan K. Selz, Esq.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 998, Chesterfield, VA 23832

Physical Address: 9512 Ironbridge Rd., Suite 110, Chesterfield, VA 23832

Phone: 804-796-4891


Q. Whom should I contact if I have questions or if I need to make an appointment for probate and/or qualification?

A. Judy L. Worthington, Clerk

Chesterfield Circuit Court

P.O. Box 125

Chesterfield, VA 23832

(804) 748-1241 (Ask for the Probate Division)

Email: [email protected]