Managing an Estate

Managing estates after someone’s death can be very difficult, especially if it involves multiple properties, bank accounts, or many material possessions. CRRL is well equipped to handle the complex tasks of advance estate planning and managing an estate. The library maintains many useful legal books and databases for anyone who needs these services. We also offer librarians on site who can aid you in your searching. No matter where you are in the process of managing an estate, CRRL can help you.

On-Site Resources

CRRL’s Fredericksburg Branch offers a number of law books that might be of use to a person involved in estate planning.  Probate Handbook can help with carrying out legal requirements after a loved one passes, and Virginia Wills, Trusts and Estates details state laws dealing with wills, trusts, and special protections for surviving spouses. Other books that you may find useful in our Law Collection are Estate and Trust Administration in Virginia, Estate Planning in Virginia, and Harrison on Wills and Administration. Please note that all of these titles are in-library use only and holds are not allowed on these items.

The library also provides a dedicated law specialist on staff at Fredericksburg Branch. Sarah Faulconer, our law specialist, can help you find resources you may need for specific tasks, but because they are not a lawyer, they cannot tell you what the law is or suggest a course of action. If you need further help, you can seek a lawyer through the Lawyer Referral Service from the Virginia State Bar.

Resources to Check Out

Our primary library catalog is available at librarypoint.bibliocommons.com. Some of our most useful resources are from the NOLO collection, which provides everyday help for small businesses and individuals with financial and business-related questions, including estate-related ones. You can search our NOLO collection by entering NOLO with the keyword of what topic you’re interested in; i.e. NOLO estates or NOLO trusts. Some books from this collection that may interest you include Plan Your Estate and Make Your Own Living Trust. You can also search our catalog for other books; we recommend using phrases such as “estate planning”, “living trust,” and “avoid probate”. Some books you can check out that we recommend include Your Virginia Wills, Trusts, and Estates Explained Simply and How to Probate an Estate          

Central Rappahannock Regional Library Database Subscriptions

In our collection of Law and Government databases, you can find Gale Legal Forms to help with your planning needs. Simply scroll down and click on Legal Forms (Gale) to access it; you can even access it from home, outside the library building!  After accessing the page, you’ll notice that the left side has a column with buttons for the most popular legal form searches, and you can find “Wills and Estates” near the top. Once you click on the button, you can find many documents relating to wills and estates for free in a variety of different formats, like Microsoft Word or PDF. 

You may also find our access to the Westlaw Database useful. To find it, visit our Law and Government databases and scroll to the bottom, then click on “Thomson Reuters Westlaw” to enter. Note that unlike Gale, Westlaw is only available at CRRL branches; you cannot access it from home. You’ll find that searching Westlaw with keywords such as wills, estates, trusts, and probate will provide you better results. There are a couple of other useful techniques to keep in mind while searching Westlaw. First, you should scroll over “All Federal” on the Search bar at the top of the page and change this category to “Virginia” to make sure your will- and estate-related searches remain specific to Virginia law. Second, you can use the Overview bar on the left side of the page to select the category of “Secondary Sources” to find resources that will help you understand certain laws or procedures. 

Other Websites and Resources

There are a number of instructional websites on legal resources that may help you. You can look up Virginia Code §64.2: Wills, Estates and Fiduciaries online to learn and review the exact written legal texts. This PDF on the Probate of Virginia provides user-friendly instructions on how probates are administrated in Virginia, arranged by numbered points. The Virginia Bar Association’s online Wills Trusts and Estates section may also help you with some of the specifics of Virginia law. A couple of legal articles may be useful as well. AARP’s Ultimate Guide to Estate Planning offers basic advice on how to manage estates from a trustworthy source. NOLO’s Making a Will in Virginia article gives a decent amount of information for those who need a quicker alternative to checking out the full-length NOLO books in our collection.

You may also find two pages on the American Bar Association’s website helpful. Its Wills and Estates section provides basic help with estate planning and will writing and also provides a link to order the ABA Guide to Wills and Estates, should you want to buy your own copy. The ABA site also provides a free PDF of Chapters 23 and 34 of their Family Legal Guide, which can help with more specific aspects of estate planning. 

These are some of the many resources CRRL has to offer you for your estate planning needs. We hope that you find some of them useful in this difficult time. CRRL will make every effort to obtain any materials you may need or guide you to any helpful service you might need. You can schedule an appointment with one of our librarians for Training on Demand on many subjects, including the Law Collection. We will strive to use all of our library and community resources to help you and your loved ones. 

Local Court Contacts for Probate

Here is a list of contacts by county for probate resources. Each city and county handles probate differently. Each link listed will let you see the county/city-specific rules, and you can contact the circuit court to ask about probate in your county.

Fredericksburg: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/circuit/fredericksburg/home.html
Phone: (540) 372-1066. Specific Probate Information: https://www.fredericksburgva.gov/653/Wills-and-Probate

King George County: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/circuit/king_george/home.html
Phone: (540) 775-3322

Spotsylvania County: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/circuit/spotsylvania/home.html
Phone: (540) 507-7600

Stafford County: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/circuit/stafford/home.html
Phone: (540) 658-8750

Westmoreland County: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/circuit/westmoreland/home.html
Phone: (804) 493-0108