Clerk of Court
Honorable Patricia S. Moore
Circuit Court Clerk
The Washington County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office is committed to providing excellent customer service. Clerk’s Office staff is prohibited by law from rendering legal advice or recommending specific ways to pursue legal action. If you feel you need the guidance or advice of an attorney, we suggest you contact someone licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For recommendation of an attorney you may contact the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service 1-800-552-7977 or their website. Nothing contained in this website is intended to advise anyone as to legal remedies for a particular circumstance. Pursuant to §2.2-3704.3 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, Patricia S. Moore is the FOIA Officer for the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.
189 East Main Street
Abingdon, VA 24210
P: (276) 676-6224
F: (276) 676-6218
M – F 8:30am – 5:00pm (Closed on Holidays)
Circuit Court Information
The Circuit Court is the trial court with the broadest powers in Virginia. The Circuit Court handles all civil cases with claims of more than $25,000. It shares authority with the General District Court to hear matters involving between $4,500 and $25,000. The Circuit Court has the authority to hear felonies. The Circuit Court also handles family matters, including divorce. In addition, the Circuit Court hears cases appealed from the General District Court and from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. There is a Circuit Court in each city and county in Virginia. Circuit Court Judges are appointed by the General Assembly for 8-year terms.
Honorable Sage B. Johnson
Honorable Deanis L. Simmons Honorable C. Randall Lowe
Lori Shaffer (276) 676 – 6260
CRIMINAL CASES SET
Counsel notified of plea bargain day, plea day and criminal jury/bench trial dates by CIRCUIT JUDICIAL ASSISTANT
MARRIAGE LICENSES ISSUED
8:30AM UNTIL 4:30PM MONDAY-FRIDAY (CEREMONIES ARE NOT PERFORMED AT THE COURTHOUSE)
10:00 a.m. on the 4th Tuesday in January, April, July and October
CIVIL CASES SET
On opening day by AGREEMENT OF COUNSEL AND CONSENT OF COURT
HOURS OF OPERATION:
MON-FRI 8:30 a.m. to 5:00p.m.
TERMS OF COURT:
Grand Jury/Opening Day- 9:00 a.m. on the 4th Tuesday in January, April, July and October
Click the link at the bottom of the page to download a Concealed Handgun Permit Application.
Application fee-$15.00 Applicants must be 21 years of age or older.
Applicants must present a one valid form of photo identification issued by a governmental agency of the Commonwealth or by the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. State Department (passport). Applicants must present proof of competency with a handgun. See §18.2-308.02(B) for acceptable proof.
Permits are mailed to eligible applicants within 45 days of receipt of a properly completed application.
Complete and submit your application to the Circuit Court in the jurisdiction where you reside. Failure to apply in the jurisdiction where you reside will result in the application being transferred to the proper jurisdiction and repayment of filing fee.
You can find information on concealed handgun permits in the Code of Virginia, 1950, as Amended; §18.2-308, et sec.
Link to deed calculator (Courts State. VA, US) Links to Circuit Court Forms(Courts State. VA, US) Hours of recordation: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday unless otherwise posted due to legal holidays or closing by order of the Court. (note: Documents must be submitted in time for recordation of same to be completed by 4:30 p.m.) No plat will be recorded that does not bear an attestation by the property owner, surveyor or attorney that the plat does not constitute a boundary line adjustment and complies with applicable laws and ordinances (acceptable attestation provided by Clerk’s office); OR a valid signature stating that the drawing been submitted to the local governing body wherein the property lies to determine its compliance with all applicable laws and ordinances. EFFECTIVE 12-1-12, WHEN RECORDING A CONVEYANCE INSTRUMENT IN CONJUNCTION WITH A FORECLOSURE, YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO PRESENT EVIDENCE OF ACTUAL VALUE OF THE PROPERTY AS WELL AS THE CONSIDERATION OF THE SALE.
STANDARDS FOR RECORDED INSTRUMENTS
§ 1. STATEMENT OF APPLICABILITY: These standards shall apply to all writings required by law to be recorded and retained permanently in the clerk’s office of the circuit courts of the Commonwealth. As noted in the section on exclusions, wills are exempt from these standards.
|§ 2. RECORDING MEDIUM: Instruments shall be recorded on paper that is uniformly white, opaque, smooth in finish, unglazed, and free of visible watermarks and background logos. The size of the paper shall be no less than 8 1/2 x 11 or larger than 8 1/2 x 14 inches. A minimum paper weight of 20 lb. is required. Positive (black on white background) copies may be substituted provided the copies meet the paper and quality inscription standards noted herein and are capable being microfilmed and of producing a legible image from microfilm. Negative (white on black background) and carbon copies are not acceptable.|
|§ 3. INSCRIPTION STANDARDS: All inscriptions shall be black and shall be solid, uniform, dense, sharp, and unglazed. Inscriptions are solid when the lines forming each letter do not have blank or light spots, and they are uniform when the entire letter is the same darkness. To be dense, each letter must be dark, and to be sharp, the demarcation between each letter and the background must be abrupt. Inscriptions are unglazed if they are non-reflective. Signatures shall be in dark blue or black ink.|
|§ 4. INSCRIPTION SIZE: Printing shall be nine point or larger. Typing shall be elite (12 character per inch) or pica (10 characters per inch) or larger.|
|§ 5. FORMAT: A minimum one inch margin shall be provided on the left, top, and bottom margins and one-half inch on the right margin.|
|§ 6. RECORDING STANDARDS: Recordation inscriptions shall be by clerk’s printed certificate, stamping, typing or handwriting and shall conform to the quality inscription standards noted above.|
|§ 7. EXCLUSION: These standards do not apply to wills, non-permanent disposable forms, such as Uniform Commercial Code forms, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and General District Court judgments and warrants. Original documents executed prior to adoption of these standards shall be admitted to record. Where a plat is submitted as part of an instrument, the standards for plats shall apply.|
|§ 8. EFFECTIVE DATE: These standards became effective July 1, 1986.|
STANDARDS FOR PLATS
|§ 1. STATEMENT OF APPLICABILITY: These standards shall apply to all plats and maps submitted for recordation in the circuit courts for the County of Washington in the Commonwealth of Virginia.|
|§ 2. RECORDING MEDIUM: Document size shall be between 8 1/2 x 11 and 18 x 24 inches, and the scale shall be appropriate to the size of the paper. Any plats larger than that stated herein, will be cut down to appropriate size. Original plats shall be inscribed on either translucent or opaque paper, polyester or linen. The background quality for opaque paper shall be uniformly white, smooth in finish, unglazed, and free of visible watermarks or background logos. Only the original or a first generation unreduced black or blue line copy of the original plat drawing, which meets the quality inscription standards noted below and has the stamp and original signature of the preparer, shall be submitted for recordation.|
|§ 3. QUALITY INSCRIPTION STANDARDS: Color of original inscription shall be black and be solid, uniform, dense, sharp, and unglazed. Signatures shall be in dark blue or black ink. Lettering shall be no less than 1/10 inch or 2.54 mm. in height. Lettering and line weight shall be no less than .013 inches or .3302 mm. Letter and line spacing for control pencil drawings shall be no less the .050 inches and for ink drawings no less than .040 inches. Drawing substance must be either wet ink or control pencil but not a combination thereof. Good drafting practices shall be followed when eliminating ghost lines and when doing erasures, and all shading and screening shall be eliminated over written data. Inscriptions shall meet standards established herein, and Line Conventions and Lettering (ANSI Y14.2M-1979), Drawing Sheet Size and Format (ANSI Y14.1-1975), and Modern Drafting Techniques for Quality Microreproduction (NMA Reference Series No. 3) shall be consulted as guidelines.|
|§ 4. FORMAT FOR COPIES: Margins shall be at least 1/4 inch on all sides, and inscriptions are to be made on only one side of the paper. All drawings shall have centering marks on each side. Match lines or grid tics delineating 8 1/2 x 11 inch sections shall be inscribed on all plats larger than 8 1/2 x 11 inches. Continuation sheets of multi-sheet drawings shall be the same size as the first sheet.|
|§ 5. RECORDING STANDARDS: Recordation inscriptions shall be by clerk’s printed certificate, stamping, typing or handwriting and shall conform to the quality inscription standards noted above.|
|§ 6. EXCLUSION: A first generation copy of an original plat drawing dated prior to the adoption of these standards shall be admitted to record.|
|§ 7. NOTE: Where a plat is submitted as part of an instrument, theses plat standards shall apply to such plat.|
|§ 8. EFFECTIVE DATE: These standards became effective January 1, 1986.|
We are here to assist you in anyway possible. However, we cannot provide you with legal or accounting advice that you may need in settling an individual estate. Your duties as the executor or administrator of an estate are set by law. It is our intention that the foregoing information provided herein will assist you in executing your duties as executor or administrator of an estate. When is it necessary to probate an estate? An estate must be probated when the decedent has solely-held assets that do not have a joint or co-owner with rights of survivorship, a beneficiary (actually on the account or security -not in the will) or a pay-on-death designee. Assets include real property, personal property, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, life insurance policies and other types of securities. A personal representative must qualify to file a wrongful death suit or to continue a pending suit when one of the parties dies before the conclusion of the suit. Where should I go to qualify as a personal representative for an estate. To the clerk’s office of the circuit court of the jurisdiction where the decedent was last known to reside, if none, then where the decedent owned real estate, if none, then where the decedent died or had any estate. For persons residing in a nursing home/convalescent home, pursuant to 64.1-76 of the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended, the place of legal residence of such person shall be presumed to be the same as it was before such person became a patient. However, that such presumption may be rebutted by competent evidence. Where do I go to probate a will in Washington County? The Washington County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office is located in the annex next to the Courthouse located at 189 E Main Street, Abingdon, Virginia. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. An appointment is recommended for your privacy and convenience. Probate appointments take approximately an hour. Call the Clerk’s office at 276-676-6224 and ask to speak with Rhonda Roop to arrange an appointment for probate. How do I contact the Commissioner of Accounts? The Commissioner of Accounts for Washington County, Virginia is Anne P. Hutton, Esquire. The office address is 101A East Valley Street, Abingdon, Virginia 24210. The office telephone number is 276-628-9342. What are the fees associated with probate? The Code of Virginia mandates fees for probate. The statutes may change annually; therefore, check with the Clerk’s office for updates. What is the procedure to probate an estate with a will? The executor named in the will must personally appear to probate the will and qualify as executor. The named executor should be a Virginia resident, however, statutes will allow out-of-state residents to qualify. This may require a Virginia resident to co-qualify and post a surety bond, despite the bond being waived in the will. When the named executor is not a resident of Virginia, a Virginia resident must accompany the executor to the Clerk’s office to either co-qualify or be appointed as a registered agent. Statutes govern the specific procedure to follow. What if the named executor does not wish to serve? The named executor must prepare a notarized statement renouncing the appointment. Priority goes to any alternates named in the will. If no alternates are named, or if any alternate executor renounces the right to serve (following the same procedure as the first named executor), then an “Administrator C.T.A.” will need to be appointed and qualify as such. (See Section 64.1-116 of the Code of Virginia, as amended. See also definition, Administrator C.T.A.). What if the named executor is deceased? The alternate executor or Administrator C.T.A. must present the death certificate of the deceased executor at the time of probate. What if the named executor wishes to be removed as such after qualifying? The executor, like any other qualified fiduciary, must file a petition for removal, a notice to set the matter on the court’s docket and present a court order for the judge’s signature. Only the court may remove a qualified fiduciary. It may be necessary to have another fiduciary ready to be appointed at the time the original fiduciary is removed. What if an in-state executor or any other fiduciary residing in Virginia moves from Virginia after qualification and the estate is still open? The fiduciary must appear personally in the Clerk’s Office to have either an in-state resident co-qualify before moving, or an in-state resident appointed as a registered agent. Statutes govern the procedures to follow. (Section 26-59 of the Code of Virginia, as amended). Trustees, other than those specifically named in the will, can only be appointed by court order. How is qualification as administrator determined? Preference is given to the spouse of the deceased. If the spouse does not wish to qualify, the spouse must prepare and sign a notarized renunciation statement. If the spouse refuses to renounce but still does not qualify as administrator, then thirty days notice must be given to the spouse of another intent to qualify. Notice should be given by certified mail, return receipt requested for proof of service. (See Section 64.1-118 of the Code of Virginia, as amended). When there is no spouse, preference is given to legal heirs at law. The legal heirs at law may all co-qualify or one may qualify individually. If qualification is sought within thirty days from the date of death, notarized nominations must be obtained from the majority of the heirs if all heirs do not intend to qualify as co-administrators. When there is no spouse and more than thirty days have passed since the date of death, any interested party may qualify as administrator without notarized nominations from the heirs. Qualifying as an administrator does not automatically make one a beneficiary to the decedent’s estate. The beneficiaries in an intestate estate are the legal heirs at law. Heirs at law are set forth by statute. (Section 64.1-1 of the Code of Virginia, as amended). What should the prospective executor/administrator bring to qualify? Virginia resident to accompany a nonresident prospective executor or administrator. The ORIGINAL will (for testate estates).§ A certified copy of the death certificate or copy of the obituary. Approximate dollar value of any solely-held personal assets. Approximate fair market value of real estate in Virginia deeded solely to the deceased or the value of the percentage owned by the deceased when the real estate is deeded as tenants in common. Names, ages and addresses of heirs at law. These are individuals who are legally entitled to receive an estate when there is no will, pursuant to 64.1 of the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended. This list is still required in a testate situation. What are the duties of an executor/administrator? Giving notice to interested parties and filing an affidavit of notice. Filing income, inheritance, or estate tax with the federal or state government. Filing an inventory and accounts of the estate with the Commissioner of Accounts (not the circuit court clerk\’s office), until the estate is closed. Under certain circumstances, a fiduciary may file a statement in lieu of the accounts. Payment of debts in the order set forth by law. Disbursement of remaining assets according to the will or to the heirs at law. Are bonds required? All fiduciaries must be bonded. State statutes govern whether the bond is with or without surety. The probate clerk will set the appropriate bond at the time the fiduciary qualifies. How long does it take after qualification to complete the probate process? A fiduciary must file an inventory within four months from the qualification date. A first accounting or statement in lieu of the first accounting must be filed within sixteen months from the qualification date. Fiduciaries file these documents with the Commissioner of Accounts’ office. The fiduciary will get a packet at the time of qualification containing instructions and other necessary forms to be completed to properly administer the estate. Finalization of an estate varies in time depending upon various circumstances. What if the only solely held asset was real estate? When there is a will, the executor will make an appointment in the jurisdiction of probate (where the decedent resided at the time of death) to record the will without qualification (unless the will specifically directs the executor to sell the real estate). When there is no specific directive to sell, the statutes in the Commonwealth of Virginia do not require an executor to qualify, if the only solely held asset was real estate. Once the will has been recorded, the real estate passes automatically, by law, to the beneficiary of the real estate under the will. When real estate is in Virginia, but outside the county having jurisdiction of probate, the will is still recorded in the county having jurisdiction. Recording fees and probate tax are collected. A certified copy of the will, list of heirs and probate order are prepared for the person presenting the will, to record in the county where the real estate is located. Also included is a certificate reflecting probate tax collected on real estate by the clerk’s office having the original jurisdiction of probate. If the probate jurisdiction is outside Virginia and real estate is solely held by the deceased in Virginia, exemplified (or triple sealed copies) of the probate documents are prepared by the jurisdiction of probate to record in the county in Virginia where the real estate is deeded. Recording fees and probate tax must be collected and a new list of heirs for Virginia must be recorded. Ancillary administration is not required in Virginia, unless it is a directive under the will to have the real estate sold by the executor. When this directive is absent, upon recording the will, the real estate passes automatically, by law, to the beneficiary of the real estate in the will. The real estate may then be sold by the beneficiary, as a beneficiary (not as an executor). For an intestate estate where real estate is the only solely held asset, the heirs would record a list of heirs (obtained from the Clerk’s Office), and pay a recording fee. A death certificate must be presented along with the document. Suppose the only asset was a motor vehicle? In this case, probate is not necessary. The beneficiary under the will or the legal heir at law, when there is no will, should take the title and death certificate to the Department of Motor Vehicles to transfer the title. It should be stated that you are not going through probate and no personal representative is qualifying, as the only asset is the motor vehicle. Is probate necessary in a small estate? If an estate consists of personal assets not totaling more than $50,000.00, and sixty days have passed since the death of the deceased and no personal representative has qualified in any jurisdiction, a small estates’ affidavit may be issued to the heirs at law when there is no will, or to the beneficiaries of a will once the will and heirs have been recorded. What constitutes a valid will? When a will is presented for probate, the probate clerk will usually determine its validity. (However, some instances require the Court to make the determination.) When a will is presented for probate and does not contain the self-proving clause, a witness deposition will be given to the individual presenting the will. This is to be completed by one of the subscribing witnesses to the will and is submitted to the probate clerk for completion. What is a self-proved will? One that contains specific language required by law at the end of the will. The presence of this clause eliminates the need to obtain witness depositions. (Section 64.1-87.1 and 64.1-87.2 of the Code of Virginia, as amended). Are holographic wills legal in Virginia? Holographic wills (those in the decedent\’s handwriting) may be admitted to probate if it shows testamentary intent, providing the entire will is written in the handwriting of the testator, signed by the testator and depositions of two disinterested parties who can identify the decedent’s handwriting are submitted. Should a will be kept in a safe deposit box at a bank? Unless the executor has access to the safe deposit box, it is not recommended. Although there is Virginia statute that may allow a safe deposit box to be opened with a bank official present for retrieval of a will, banks make it very difficult to gain access to wills stored in safe deposit boxes. (Section 6.1-332.1 of the Code of Virginia, as amended). May the clerk’s office help someone write a will? No. You may consult an attorney or you may prepare your own will. Where may a copy of a death certificate be obtained in Virginia? If the death occurred in Virginia, death certificates may be obtained from the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Richmond, Virginia, phone (804) 786-6228 or (804) 786-6201. Whom does one contact about inheritance taxes? Contact the Virginia Department of Taxation. Is this all that I need to know about administering estates? No. There are more than two hundred sections of the Code of Virginia pertaining to the administration of estates. This webpage answers only the most commonly asked procedural questions.
The Circuit Court a trial court that handles all civil cases with claims of more than $25,000. It shares authority with the General District Court to hear matters involving between $4,500 and $25,000. The Circuit Court also handles family matters, including divorce. In addition, the Circuit Court hears cases appealed from the General District Court and from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. LINK TO FEE SCHEDULE http://www.courts.state.va.us/caseinfo/home.html#fees LINK TO CIVIL FILING FEE CALCULATION http://webdev.courts.state.va.us/cgi-bin/DJIT/ef_djs_ccfees_calc.cgi LINK TO CASE INDEX http://wasdmz2.courts.state.va.us/CJISWeb/circuit.html (COURTS.STATE.VA.US) LINK TO CIRCUIT COURT FORMS http://www.courts.state.va.us/forms/circuit/home.html(COURTS.STATE.VA.US)
E-FILING FOR CIVIL CASES
VIRGINIA JUDICIARY E-FILING SYSTEM (VJEFS)
- Fill out the application and return to the Clerk’s Office by email email@example.com.
- Once the application is received, the Clerk will set login information and forward it to you via email.
- Once registered, log in here to begin e-filing.
ALL parties must e-file for a case to remain in VJEFS. Paper filings CANNOT be accepted in VJEFS cases. All applicants must complete the application process within 24 hours of receiving log in credentials. Once you have successfully applied to VJEFS in any Circuit Court, you will be granted access to VJEFS in all jurisdictions who e-file using the system. IMPORTANT-refunds will not be issued for cases filed mistakenly in Washington County. An order to transfer must be obtained by the Judge to move the case to the correct filing jurisdiction. In Forma Pauperis petitions will not be accepted via e-filing.
Organization Registration Information – Company/Firm information
Authorizing Party Information – The Authorizing Party of an organization is an individual with the authority to make management decisions for the organization.
Administrator Registration Information – This individual will be an administrator for the organization and will be able to add users, remove users, reset passwords, etc. This person does not need to be the same as the Authorizing Party and is one of the following: Administrator Only – will be responsible for user accounts within the organization but will not have access for e-filing documents. Examples of administrator only would be an office manager or IT manager for the office. Administrator/Attorney – an attorney who will be e-filing and will also have administrator responsibilities Administrator/Staff – a staff member who will be e-filing on behalf of an attorney and will also have administrator responsibilities
Frequently Asked Questions
The Circuit Court Clerk’s office is a filing office and its personnel cannot give legal advice. We can show you how to find a specific deed or other record, but cannot advise you regarding everything needed for a complete title examination.
Almost all Circuit Court records are public records and can be viewed by anyone. The Circuit Court Clerk’s Office does house sealed and confidential records that, by law or order of the Court, are not allowed to be viewed by the public. You must ask a staff member to get the record for you and must review the record in the presence of Circuit Court Clerk’s personnel.
Usually, no. Most traffic matters are in General District Court (unless the General District Court decision has been appealed to Circuit Court) If you just want to pay a fine, you need to go to the General District Court Clerk’s office (also located in the Washington County Courthouse).
If both parties are over the age of 18, you will both need to be present a valid, government issued photo identification. Both parties must sign the application. Parties under the age of 18 may not apply for a marriage license without an order of emancipation. A marriage license obtained in Washington County can be used anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is valid for 60 days from the date of issue.
Birth records must be obtained from the Bureau of Vital Records in Richmond. Applications are available at www.vdh.state.va.us.
The Circuit Court Clerk’s office does not have fill-in forms for filing complaints for divorce and again, its personnel cannot give legal advice. The statistical form required by the Virginia Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics after the completion of a divorce action can be obtained from the Clerk’s office. An informational sheet concerning pro se (self representation) divorce actions is available.
Survey or subdivision plats to be recorded may be no larger than 18 inches by 24 inches in size. See also standards for plats on the Land Recordation page of this website.