Designation as an executor is a mark of trust by the departed, but also brings a legal duty to the state. In Virginia, a relative may serve as executor, or the court may appoint an administrator. Either also may be called the personal representative or fiduciary. A full listing of executor responsibilities can be found in Title 64 of the Virginia State Code.
Opening the Estate
In Virginia, a circuit court appoints, or qualifies, executors in the county where decedents lived. To qualify, the executor files an original, signed copy of the will, a certified death certificate and a statement of the estimated value of assets for the estate. The executor also pays a probate tax based on the value of the estate. If the documents have not been filed within 30 days of the death, the court may appoint an administrator to manage the estate. Out-of-state executors retain resident representative. The court may order one or both to purchase a surety bond.
Managing and Closing the Estate
In addition to opening the estate, the executor must notify all heirs of the death within 30 days of qualification. The executor must collect estate assets, ensure the safety of those assets, arrange for appraisals, and pay any existing debts and taxes owed. Within four months of qualification, an inventory of assets and debts must be filed with the court's Commissioner of accounts. Within a year after this filing, final federal and state tax returns must be filed and assets distributed to heirs. In addition, an accounting of debts and disbursements must be provided to the court.