If you have been named as the Personal Representative or Executor for an Estate and you think a Probate may be necessary, please contact our office. It is important to understand the Probate process and your fiduciary duties as the Personal Representative or Executor.
The process of reviewing your Will and estate by the court is called a Probate. The court will review the Will to see if it is authentic and consistent with state law. The courts will also make sure that all debts are settled, and that all taxes are paid. Once the Will is validated and the Personal Representative can satisfy the courts that all claims have been paid, then he or she is free to pay out the balance of the estate to the beneficiaries in the Will. Typically, the probate process takes about six months to one year. Heirs will not get their inheritance until the process is complete. There are also rules the court follows on who get your assets when there is no valid will. These rules are called the Laws of Intestacy. Generally, your spouse will get your probate estate outright, or share it with your children from a prior marriage. If there is no surviving spouse or children, then the estate would be distributed to other family members, and if no family members exist, then to the State where the property is located.
As mentioned above, when a person dies in Arizona leaving a valid Will, they are considered to have passed away “testate.” When a person dies in Arizona without leaving a valid Will, they are considered to have passed away “intestate.” The Court will handle the Probate proceeding whether a person passed away testate or intestate. Further, there are typically three types of probates in Arizona, which are informal, formal, and supervised. Our Attorneys can advise which type of probate proceeding will be needed for each specific case. We have also handled thousands of Probate matters.
The first step to take when considering Probate is to determine if a Probate is even necessary. In some circumstances, a person can administer an estate without having to open this Court proceeding. Occasionally, we can administer a decedent’s Estate by way of a Small Estate Administration. We encourage you to schedule an initial consultation with one of our highly experienced and knowledgeable Attorneys to help make this determination. Once we know whether a probate or a Small Estate Administration is necessary, our firm can assist with preparing the necessary documents to administer the Estate. It is important to keep in mind that when a person is nominated as Personal Representative of an Estate (i.e. the person responsible for administering the Estate) there are many fiduciary duties that need to be met. Our firm can be counted on to make sure that the Personal Representative or Executor complies with all of those duties. We understand this is a difficult time and we are here to help every step of the way.