The Probate Process for Real Estate in Virginia

Virginia is a beautiful state filled with a deep, rich history. It is a place that runs on its own rules, which also applies to the probate process for real estate. Unfortunately, the circumstance surrounding probate is the passing of a relative. While there are so many other things to think about and organize during this time, having the will probated is a task to be completed — though it does not have to be done immediately.

Legal processes, to those who are not passionate about law, can be either confusing or dry. There are articles, contingencies, and a set of steps that need to be taken in a certain order. It can be frustrating to work with, which is why this article aims to simplify the process and make it easier to understand. While this article should not be taken as legal advice, it can hopefully provide you with further information and make the probate process less complicated. When you are ready and interested in selling probate real estate in Virginia, there are some essential things to note.

What probate means in Virginia

Probate is the legal process that occurs after someone dies, determining where assets go and to whom they go. With real estate in probate, many states have the court take over and leave it to them to decide the fate of the property. The probate process in Virginia, however, is a bit different. The main difference is that Virginia does not have a probate court, and the will is instead probated by the circuit court where the previous owner lived.

Upon the passing of the previous owner, their property passes to their surviving spouse and then to their children. If there is no surviving spouse or any children to inherit the property, then the property will go to the parents of the previous owner, and then to any siblings. This would be the case even if the previous owner died without having a will.

While there can be no guarantees of real estate transactions transpiring without any difficulties, the probate process for real estate in Virginia ensures that the heir or administrator has possession and control over the property.

Certificate of qualification

Unlike many other states, the Virginia probate court issues a certificate of qualification, which allows the beneficiary or administrator to have control over the property instead of the court. Other heirs must be informed of the sale, but they do not have to agree or sign off. If you are the administrator who decides to move forward with selling, The Babbington Team realty will gladly assist you.

Even if the administrator has control over the property, they may still have to obtain an order that grants them the power of sale. The only caveat is that the sale price of the property must be at least 90% of the market value to ensure any of the previous owner’s debts and taxes are paid.

Once a certificate of qualification is issued, the administrator does not have to act immediately. They have up to six months after it is issued to distribute the estate. If you are the administrator, there are probably a lot of challenges and processes that you have had to go through, but you have time to come up with a plan and decide what you want to do.

Selling a property in probate

As the administrator or personal representative is the one who handles the sale, it is their job to execute the deed that transfers ownership to the buyer. The most common document used in these instances is a special warranty deed. Using this deed protects the personal representative, as it makes no guarantees about defects in the property before ownership. If there are issues with the property that the personal representative did not know about when the property came into their possession, they will not be held liable when they are selling.

As Virginia is full of history, so are its properties. If you come into possession of a historical home, there are bound to be some things that could present issues, whether it be old pipes, a weathered roof, or a chimney that needs pointing. While you can make any upgrades that you see fit to increase the selling price, it is not required. Whatever happened to the property in the past is not your responsibility. Any further questions will gladly be answered by a Babbington Team realtor.

Legal assistance

If you have no prior knowledge of the law, it can be overwhelming to try and understand what is required. Legal documents are filled with jargon and can come across as overly complicated and can become overwhelming — especially if you are mourning.

Working with a lawyer with expert knowledge of probate in Virginia allows you to feel confident during the process. If, for whatever reason, you do not have a probate lawyer to assist you in Virginia, your real estate agent will be able to provide you with options and references.

Buying property in probate

As mentioned previously, the probate process in Virginia is different than in other states. Since Virginia does not have a probate court, the probate sales in the state may be different from what you would expect.

When you hear about a probate sale in real estate, your mind may go to months, and even sometimes years, of waiting. Luckily, this is not the case in Virginia.

If the administrator has the power to sell, then they may do so themselves without the circuit court’s involvement. There will be no court appearances or hearings when buying probate property and no bidding wars. Buying property in probate in Virginia, from the buyer’s perspective, is a transaction that appears to be business as usual.

Seek assistance from real estate professionals

While the probate process for real estate can be difficult, no one is better suited to help than the Babbington Team. Comprised of talented agents with diverse experience, there is no hurdle they will not jump through to ensure you are satisfied with your real estate experience. Past clients rave about their skills, and their new clients are thrilled to have them on their side.

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Our team members have backgrounds in marketing and education, as well as architecture and design. We see each transaction from all angles—not just as a financial opportunity.
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