Do You Need a Lawyer to Probate an Arizona Estate?
When a loved one passes away, you naturally go through a difficult period of grieving the loss of a family member. At the same time, you have to address the legal issues relating to the estate, which can be daunting. When you count on an experienced probate attorney to help you navigate the myriad of questions that arise after the death of a loved one, your lawyer can carry most of the burden of probate administration and ensure compliance with all the requirements of state law.
First Steps of Estate Administration
Notifying family members and friends is always the first concern when you lose a loved one. Then, even before you make the final arrangements, you need to ascertain whether your family member created legal documents expressing their final wishes and designating individuals to be responsible for the arrangements and the estate. If your loved one had an estate plan, those legal documents must be located and followed. In the absence of an estate plan, provisions of Arizona law apply to making all decisions concerning the estate. A probate lawyer can help you resolve all these concerns.
Even if there are estate planning documents, no one (even an executor named in a Last Will and Testament) has legal authority over property in the estate. The deceased person’s money cannot be accessed or disbursed unless someone has a joint account with them. The appropriate person must petition the court for Letters of Personal Representative to obtain that authority. The personal representative of an estate has substantial legal duties, so seeking appointment is a serious matter. If you’re considering applying for appointment, talking with a probate lawyer is a good place to start.
Early on, it’s essential to determine whether Arizona law requires the estate or any of the assets to complete the probate process. Assistance from a probate lawyer is invaluable in making this determination, which depends on what property and assets are in the deceased person’s estate. Even if the estate is small and qualifies for the affidavit process, a lawyer can help you navigate the complex process and make certain that all legal rules are satisfied.
If the estate requires probate under Arizona law, completing the process is subject to specific rules and legal requirements. The personal representative has legal responsibility for completing the process. When a probate lawyer helps you complete the process, you can be confident that the estate is properly handled as required by law.
Probate of an Arizona Estate
Arizona has several different types of probate administration. The process for a specific estate depends on the property subject to probate and the circumstances of the estate. The best way to determine whether probate is necessary and what type of probate administration applies is to talk with an Arizona probate lawyer.
The probate process takes time, regardless of what type of probate is necessary for an estate. State law establishes specific steps that must be followed. Time limitations and notification requirements also apply. For a personal representative, satisfying all the technical requirements can be overwhelming. Getting help from a probate lawyer in navigating the process alleviates the stress and confusion about meeting Arizona probate requirements.
The steps in probate of an estate follow a clear order. To begin the process, the personal representative notifies all heirs and beneficiaries of initiation of probate. Creditors of the estate also receive notification. These notifications must follow specific requirements.
After completion of the required notifications, the personal representative is responsible for gathering all the estate property, as well as securing and protecting it. Creating an inventory and appraisal of everything in the estate is required. Depending on the nature of the estate, this process can be substantial. Assistance from a professional appraiser may be necessary in some cases.
The personal representative’s duties also include paying all debts, taxes, costs, and expenses of the estate in an order of priority established by law. If there are disputes with creditors, they must be addressed. A probate lawyer helps with all these aspects of the process.
After paying all claims, the personal representative details all assets and payments in a written accounting provided to the heirs or beneficiaries. The process allows objections to the accounting. When the accounting is final, the personal representative distributes the property in the estate and ultimately completes settlement of the estate.
The Role of a Probate Lawyer
When you turn to an experienced probate lawyer for assistance with administration of an estate, your lawyer helps with every step of the process from the very beginning. The attorney’s role includes determining whether probate is necessary and what type of process is required for the estate, as well as assisting with securing your appointment as personal representative of the estate.
The duties of a personal representative begin immediately following court appointment. A probate lawyer helps you navigate through the entire process, which ultimately ends with distribution of the property and settlement of the estate. If family disagreements arise at any point during the process, which sometimes happens, your lawyer helps resolve these disagreements whenever possible, to avoid probate litigation over the estate.
From start to finish, a probate lawyer carries most of the burden of probate administration to ensure full compliance with all legal requirements. You can rest assured with the confidence that you fulfill your legal duties and that your loved one’s estate is settled according to their wishes and in compliance with the requirements of Arizona law.
While the law does not require you to use a probate lawyer, you risk noncompliance and violation of Arizona statutory requirements if you attempt to administer an estate on your own without professional help. The potential consequences may include unnecessary delays and estate expenses, as well as other serious legal issues. When you have a knowledgeable probate lawyer help you complete the legal process, you avoid those risks completely.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an East Valley Probate Lawyer
At Peterson Law Offices, we assist clients with all aspects of estate administration and probate, regardless of the size and nature of an estate. Your first consultation is always free of charge. Whenever you have questions and concerns about administration of a deceased loved one’s estate, we are here to help.
We take pride in offering top-quality, affordable legal services and exceptional client service. We welcome inquiries from clients throughout the East Valley, including Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler. Schedule your free initial consultation by calling 480-878-5998 or using our online contact form.