Who Is the Personal Representative of Your Loved One’s Arizona Estate?
The personal representative for an Arizona estate is the individual who handles probate administration of the estate of a decedent.
If your loved one was an Arizona resident when he or she passed away, state law determines who qualifies to serve as the personal representative of your loved one’s Arizona estate.
Who Chooses the Personal Representative?
When you make a will, you choose the personal representative for your own estate. That person sometimes is also called the executor of your estate. Naming your own executor is one of the important reasons for having a will.
If the executor named in a will cannot or does not wish to serve, or if a person dies without a will (called dying intestate), an Arizona statute sets an order of priority in which individuals may apply to the court for appointment as personal representative. Being named in a will or qualified by the statute to serve does not entitle a person to act as the personal representative of the estate. Before someone can act as personal representative, an individual must apply to the court for Letters of Personal Representative, which authorize the person to serve as the personal representative.
The statute establishes the following priority order of persons who may apply for appointment as personal representative of an estate:
- A person named in a will or nominated by a power given in the will
- A surviving spouse who receives real property under the will
- Other beneficiaries who receive real property under the will
- A surviving spouse
- Others who inherit under Arizona laws of intestate succession
- The Department of Veterans’ services, if the deceased person was a veteran or spouse or child of a veteran
- 45 days after death, any creditor
- The public fiduciary
Certain individuals are not qualified to serve as personal representative in Arizona, including persons under age 18, persons found unsuitable by the court, and foreign corporations.
A person who qualifies under Items 2 through 5 above may renounce his or her right to apply or nominate another person in writing to the court. If two or more people qualify, those who do not renounce must either apply for appointment or agree in nominating another person.
The law permits objections to an appointment only in formal court proceedings. The law requires formal proceedings if:
- A person with a higher priority has not renounced or waived the right to apply;
- Two or more persons share a priority under Item 3 or 5 above, and one or more of them has not renounced or concurred in the applicant’s appointment; or
- A person with no priority applies, which requires the court to determine that those with priority do not object and that administration is necessary.
When the court holds a formal proceeding, the judge determines appointment of the personal representative according to rules provided in the statute.
Should You Serve As the Personal Representative of Your Loved One’s Estate?
You may be eligible to serve as the personal representative for your loved one’s estate if you qualify under the statutory priority order. There are a number of factors to consider before you make the decision about whether you should apply to the court for appointment.
The personal representative of an estate has fiduciary and legal duties in gathering assets, managing those assets, paying debts of the estate, and distributing assets to the beneficiaries of the estate. When the estate includes significant assets, the responsibilities can be quite substantial. Additional details are available in our blog post, How Does the Arizona Probate Administration Process Work?
Fortunately, you do not have to fulfill the duties as personal representative by yourself. In most cases, the personal representative for an estate relies on an experienced probate attorney to assist with the whole process. Your attorney makes sure that administration of the estate satisfies all the legal procedures and requirements.
If you decide to apply for appointment as the personal representative of your loved one’s is estate, you will have peace of mind knowing that the estate is handled properly. You will make important decisions about administration of the estate, rather than leaving those decisions to someone else. To the extent possible within legal requirements, you will be able to implement your loved one’s wishes.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced East Valley Probate Administration Attorney
Before you make a decision, take the time to talk with an attorney who knows the Arizona estate administration and probate process. At Peterson Law Offices, your initial consultation is always free-of-charge, so it costs you nothing to talk with us.
Attorney Shane Peterson takes the time to discuss your circumstances and answer all your questions before you decide whether to handle your loved one’s estate as the personal representative. When you work with Shane in administering your loved one’s estate, he meticulously navigates through the entire process with you and ensures that all legal the requirements are satisfied every step of the way. Shane’s goal is to carry as much of the burden as possible and relieve your stress and concerns about managing and administering the estate.
We take pride in offering top-quality, affordable legal services and exceptional client service in our Arizona probate practice, as in all our practice areas. 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.