When (and How) Do You Start the Probate Process for a Loved One’s Estate?

When a loved one passes away, family members naturally go through a difficult and challenging time. Focusing on the grieving process and providing emotional support for each other is a top priority. At the same time, every Arizona estate must go through legal estate administration, which may include the state’s statutory probate process. Knowing when and how to start the probate process can help you navigate the legal aspects of your loved one’s estate while minimizing the resulting concerns.

First Steps After a Loved One Dies

After the death of a loved one, immediate tasks include notifying all family members and friends and making the final arrangements for your loved one. But before you start making the arrangements, it’s important to determine whether your loved one left instructions expressing their final wishes. Final instructions may be contained in legal documents, so you should try to locate any documents left by your loved one if you do not already have them.

As you make the final arrangements for your loved one, keep in mind that no one has any legal authority over property in the deceased person’s estate until the necessary legal process is followed. That is true even if there is a will or estate plan naming an executor and beneficiaries of the estate or if someone had a power of attorney. You can (and should) take immediate but temporary actions to secure the estate property and keep it safe, but no one can take possession of estate assets or allow anyone else to do so.

The best way to ensure that proper legal procedures are followed for your loved one’s estate is to talk with an Arizona probate lawyer. While you usually do not need to do that immediately after death, the circumstances may make it necessary. For example, if the deceased person had a safe deposit box, you may need help from a probate lawyer accessing the box to obtain any legal documents stored there. Other concerns and issues may also arise, and you should not hesitate to contact a probate lawyer if you need help addressing them.

Please read our blog article, Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies, for more information about how to proceed when a family member passes away.

How a Probate Lawyer Can Help

Turning to a probate lawyer for help with a loved one’s estate can go a long way to alleviating concerns and stress over how to proceed with the legal process for the estate. In addition to helping with issues that arise early on (like access to a safe deposit box), your probate lawyer helps you navigate the Arizona estate administration and probate process (and the complex probate terminology) to satisfy the state’s legal requirements.

At Peterson Law Offices, we always assume as much of the burden of legal compliance as possible when we help with an estate. We want the family to be able to continue focusing on the bereavement process, rather than worrying about following state laws for processing the estate. Since we never charge for an initial consultation, you should not hesitate to call on us if you need help with your loved one’s estate.

One of the first estate administration issues to address with your lawyer’s assistance is determining whether probate is necessary for your loved one’s estate. Some Arizona estates are not required to go through the formal probate process. The legal requirements for a specific estate are based on the nature of the estate and the character of the assets and property in the estate, as well as the provisions in the individual’s estate planning documents. In addition, even when an estate does go through probate, there may be non-probate assets that are not included in the probate process. Your probate lawyer helps you determine the specific legal processes that apply to your loved one’s estate and assets.

After you and your probate lawyer determine the specific legal requirements for the estate, the administration process can begin. Whether or not the process involves probate, you can count on your attorney to help you complete all the steps necessary to settle your loved one’s estate. While Arizona law does not require assistance from a lawyer to probate an estate, getting knowledgeable professional legal support is really the only way to ensure compliance with all of the state’s legal requirements.

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. If you have any questions or concerns about administration of a deceased loved one’s estate, please do not hesitate to call on us for 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.

Categories: Arizona Probate