Seals of the Court of Appeals and Superior Court
District of Columbia Courts

Large Decedent’s Estates (ADM)

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Large Decedent / Estate FAQs

General Information

For people who die domiciled in the District of Columbia and owning real property located in the District of Columbia and/or other assets of any value (such as bank accounts, stocks, and personal belongings), a decedent's estate (also known as a large estate) may be opened to appoint a personal representative, pay debts, and make distribution of estate assets to those person(s) who inherit them either through a will admitted to probate or through the laws of intestate succession.

The person who died is the "decedent." If the decedent died with a will, the person who is named in the will to handle the decedent's estate is the nominated personal representative.

The nominated personal representative (or whoever has possession of the will) must file the will with the Court. If the decedent had assets, the nominated personal representative should file a petition for probate of the will and for appointment as the personal representative. If the decedent had assets but died without a will, his or her estate will still have to be probated by a court-appointed personal representative. The decedent’s next-of-kin has priority to file a petition for probate and serve as personal representative.

Much more detail regarding the process of administering an estate in the District of Columbia, including definitions of terms and a case diary of important deadlines, is included in "After Death - A Guide to Probate in the District of Columbia." Please read it carefully.

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After Death - A Guide to Probate in the District of Columbia Download


Although the law does not require a person to have a lawyer to probate an estate, the process is complicated, and an experienced probate lawyer is helpful, particularly since Probate Division staff cannot provide legal advice.

Probate Division

Presiding Judge: Hon. Laura Cordero
Deputy Presiding Judge: Hon. Carmen McLean
Director: Nicole Stevens
Deputy Director: Aisha Ivey-Nixon

Register of Wills: Nicole Stevens
Deputy Register of Wills: John H. Middleton

Court Building A
515 Fifth Street, NW, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20001

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8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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