Probate Tax (Code of Virginia Sections 58.1-1711 through 1718)
The probate tax is imposed on the probate of most wills and grants of administration, and applies to property in Virginia. No tax is imposed on estates valued at $15,000 or less.
The tax does not apply to the following types of property within an estate:
- Property passing by the exercise of a power of appointment.
- Jointly held property with right of survivorship.
- Insurance proceeds payable to a named beneficiary, other than the estate.
- Bonds payable on death to a named beneficiary.
The tax does apply to property owned as tenants in common, to the extent of the decedent's interest in the property. The tax also applies to property that is passed to a beneficiary through a will.
Resident and Nonresident Decedents
With the exception of the types of property discussed above, the tax applies to real and tangible personal property of the decedent that is located in Virginia. For a resident decedent, intangible personal property (bank accounts, stocks, bonds, etc.) is subject to the tax, regardless of where it is located. For a nonresident decedent, the tax does not apply to intangible personal property, regardless of where it is located.
Rate of Tax
The tax is assessed at the rate of 10 cents per $100 on estates valued at more than $15,000, including the first $15,000 of assets. For example, the tax on an estate valued at $15,500 is $15.50. Localities may also impose a local probate tax equal to 1/3 of the state probate tax.
Filing and Payment
Probate tax returns, estate inventories, and other documents required for probate are filed with the circuit court for the locality in which the decedent was a resident. The tax must be paid at the time the will is presented for probate or grant of administration is sought.
Although the state tax is collected through the circuit courts, the courts are not authorized to make refunds of overpayments. To apply for a refund, the estate's executor or representative should write to:
Special Taxes and Services
P.O. Box 546
Richmond, Virginia 23218-0546
The request for refund must include documentation to support the claim of overpayment, such as copies of the original and amended inventories as approved by the Commissioner of Accounts, and proof of payment of the tax due. No refund will be made if the overpayment of tax is less than $25.
Fee in Lieu of Probate Tax
Virginia law imposes a fee of $25 for the recordation of a list of heirs or a specified affidavit. The locality in which the list is recorded may impose an additional local fee of $25. The fee does not apply if a will has been probated for the decedent or there has been a grant of administration on the decedent's estate.
When an individual dies, Virginia law requires the personal representative or other qualified person to furnish a list of heirs to the court or to the clerk of the court in the city or county where real estate belonging to the decedent is located and where the personal representative has qualified. If no personal representative qualifies within 30 days following the death of a property owner who died intestate, any heir of the decedent may file the list of heirs with the court.