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The word probate refers to the process of proving before a proper court that a document offered as the last will and testament of a deceased person is genuine.
The Virginia Circuit Court, or the clerk or deputy clerk of that Court, has jurisdiction over the probate of wills in the City or County where the decedent had a house or residence, and if none, where any real estate lies that is devised or owned by the decedent, and if none, the City or County where the decedent has estate assets.
The legal residence of a person residing in a nursing home or similar facility is presumed to be the same as it was before becoming a patient in the nursing home.
The original will must be presented to the clerk, who reviews the document to confirm that it meets the requirements under Virginia law for a valid executed and properly proven will and if so, the will is received for recordation by the clerk.
A valid will must be in writing, signed by the testator, or some other person in the testator's presence and at his or her direction. Additionally, the testator's signature must be made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of at least two competent witnesses, who are present at the same time.
A will made wholly in the handwriting of a testator and signed by the testator is valid under Virginia law. This type of will is referred to as a holographic will. The handwriting of the testator must be established by two disinterested witnesses at the time of probate.
If the will is not self proving, at least one of the two witnesses signing the will must appear and state under oath that the requirements for execution of the will as discussed above were met.
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