Simplifying the Process of Probate
Probate in Arizona is a lawsuit to make sure that your bills get paid first. Then if there is anything left over, property will be transferred to your heirs or beneficiaries. Probate is expensive, time-consuming and public.
The best way to avoid the probate process is to develop a comprehensive
Estate Plan, keep it updated, and make sure you have it properly funded. If you are now in a situation where you must go through probate courts to finalize the estate of a loved one, the best thing you can do is get educated and get help to complete the process as quickly, and as cost-effectively, as possible.
Contact us today to get started.
Probate Frequently Asked Question
Although any beneficiary or creditor can initiate probate, normally the person named in the will as the Executor starts the process by filing the original will with the court and filing a Petition with the probate court. If there is no will, typically a close relative of the decedent who expects to inherit from the estate will file the Petition.
If the decedent had a will, the person named in the will as the Executor will serve, if eligible. If that person is unable or unwilling to serve as Executor, or if there is no Will, then any interested family member or person can petition the Court to be the administrator of the Estate.
Arizona law provides that the Executor may be paid a reasonable amount based on a set of circumstances.
Being an Executor is a big responsibility. Arizona’s probate code contains pages upon pages of complex legal rules and procedures that an Executor must follow during the probate. Also, there are certain deadlines that an Executor must meet in filing papers with the Court. If an Executor violates any of these rules, they can be held personally liable for losses to the estate.
There are a couple common reasons your loved one’s estate might still end up in probate; their trust was not funded or their trust was not up to date. Trusts that are properly funded and up to date, will likely not end up in Probate.
For this reason, Truest Law has developed a comprehensive system that helps our clients keep their trusts, funded, up to date, and compliant to ensure their loved ones will not end up in probate.
Assets owned solely in the name of the deceased person are subject to probate. Assets that pass by means of title, such as real estate titled as “Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship,” or bank accounts titled as “Transfer On Death” are not subject to the probate process. Assets that pass by means of a beneficiary designation, such as life insurance or some retirement accounts, are also not subject to probate. In some situations, however, assets that would otherwise pass by title or beneficiary designation can be subject to the probate process. Talk to an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.
If there is no will or trust, the estate will be distributed according to Arizona probate and intestate laws, which state that a person’s estate will be distributed in the following order: 1. Spouse 2. Children 3. Parents (if you have no children) 4. Siblings (if you have no children or parents).
The length of time of a probate will depend on several factors. It usually takes 6 to 18 months and can take up to two years or even longer for complex cases.
Probate has charges related to publication, investigative searches for heirs, cost of administration and legal fees for all involved, if counsel is retained. All of the fees must be reasonable. Unlike other states, Arizona does not limit the cost of probate to a percentage of the estate. So many factors are at play contributing to the costs of resolving the estate.
The Personal Representative (i.e. Executor or Administrator) is also entitled to the statutory fee for their services. The Arizona Probate court can order additional fees for more complicated cases or extraordinary services. There are also court costs and filing fees, document certification and recording fees, and property appraisal fees.