Superior Court of the Virgin Islands
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FAQ - Probate Division
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What is Probate?

Probate is the court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid. Intestate is the legal term that refers to the estate of a deceased person who dies without leaving a will.

Why is probate necessary?

Probate is necessary to protect the assets of the decedent for their heirs, creditors, and other persons due money from the estate, and to ensure the collection of money due the estate. Probate provides for the payment of outstanding debts and taxes, as well as the expenses of administration and distribution of the estate to the heirs.

When should you file a probate petition?

A probate action should be commenced as soon as possible after the decedent’s death.

What are the different types of probate petitions?

There is a petition for the Administration of Testamentary Estates, which is filed in accordance with Super. Ct. R. 191 and 15 V.I Code Ann. § 232.

There is a petition for the Administration of Intestate Estate, which is filed in accordance with Super. Ct. R. 191(b), 192(d) and 15 V.I. Code Ann. § 232.

There is a petition for the Settlement without Administration, which is filed in accordance with 15 V.I. Code Ann. § 191 and § 198. Settlement without Administration is permissible that when a person dies intestate, leaving no debts or such debts as his heirs choose to assume and pay. The heirs must accept the estate “purely, simply and unconditionally.”

Finally, there is the petition for the Administration of Ancillary Probate, which is filed in accordance with Super. Ct. R. 210. Where real and/or personal property, located within the United States Virgin Islands has been devised or bequeathed by the written will of a nonresident testator, the devisees or legatees entitled under the will, to the property in the United States Virgin Islands may apply to the Superior Court to be placed in the possession of such property. This procedure is not applicable where the decedent dies intestate.

What are the filing fees associated with filing a probate petition?

The filing fee for probate petitions is Fifty Dollars ($50.00). Upon the Court’s entering of the Final Adjudication in each probate matter, a Final Adjudication Assessment Fee is charged.

What documents do I need to support a Probate Petition?

The following documents are needed to support a probate petition:
  1. The certified death certificate of the decedent. The certificate must bear a raised seal.
  2. Proof of the decedent’s ownership of property.
  3. The original will, if the decedent died testate or an evidentiary hearing will be scheduled to determine the validity of a copy of the will.
  4. An authenticated will and record of cover proceeding in an ancillary probate.

What should you probate?

All the real and personal property owned by the decedent at the time of the decedent’s death must be probated whether the decedent died testate or intestate in order to legally transfer the property to his or her heirs.

What are the duties of an Executor?

If a person dies with a will, there is usually a person named in the will who is called an executor. The Executor conducts the administration of the estate. An executor must exercise the highest duty of good faith and candor in carrying out the following tasks:
  1. Caring for all property of the decedent.
  2. Receiving payments due the estate.
  3. Collecting all debts due the estate.
  4. Determine the names, ages, residences, and degree of relationship of all Heirs.
  5. Investigating the validity of all claims made against the estate.
These actions require the preparation and filing of numerous legal documents, the publication of notices, hearings in court, an appraisal of the assets of the estate, an inventory of the assets, an accounting of fund, final transfer of all assets to heirs, and termination of probate proceedings. Because of the complexity of these proceedings, the assistance of an attorney is usually necessary.

Do I need to be an attorney to serve as an executor?

No, you do not need to be an attorney to serve as an executor or administrator. However, you should always consult an attorney when issues arise which you are not comfortable handling. If consulted for estate matters, attorneys’ fees are payable out of the estate.

How do I file my will?

You may visit the Clerk’s Office between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and pay the requisite fee of Twenty-five ($25.00) to file your will for safekeeping.

Upon receipt and payment, you will be issued a receipt and the will shall be placed in the Court’s vault for safekeeping.

Please note that a will can only be returned to the person who initially filed it. Once a person dies, his or her will can only be released by an order of the Court.

If a family member dies, how do I get their property transferred to the person who is entitled to receive it?

The deceased person's property would have to be probated; therefore you should seek the advice of an attorney. Based on the amount of the assets and the size of the estate, the attorney would know the appropriate petition should be filed. The attorney would then file the appropriate petition with the court. The filing fee for probate petition is $50.00.


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