What is Probate for an Estate?
Probate covers various areas of law but the most common is the transfer title of an asset from a deceased person to his/her beneficiaries. This court-managed legal process by our Arizona probate lawyers allows for the managing and distribution of assets. In Arizona, there are various levels of probate: supervised, formal, informal, small estate. Call Arizona Law Doctor today for your free consultation at 480-360-0537!
Why does everyone want to avoid Probate?
1. Costly: Probate can be costly to your estate.
2. Lengthy: The probate process can on average of 12-24 months to complete with some contested probates lasting years. The length of time for the probate process depends on the complexity and size of the estate and the local rules and the probate court calendar. Further, if you have minor beneficiaries, probate will remain open(and costs continue to run) until all beneficiaries turn 18.
3. Public: Probate is a public process. People you want to keep out of your affairs, by law, may receive notice and update via the public probate process. The terms of your will, your list of assets and list of beneficiaries will be public information and are available to anyone including marketers who wishes to sell a product, investment or service to your beneficiaries.
How can I avoid Probate?
In Arizona, a will alone does not avoid the probate process. However, if the deceased person’s assets are owned through a well drafted and properly funded living trust, the court-managed probate process can be greatly reduced or even eliminated. The trustee of the trust has more flexibility to administer the distribution of the deceased’s assets.
Are there any benefits to Probate?
Yes, there are several but one of the biggest is limiting creditor rights to estate assets. If creditors are a concern, probate can be a huge tool for you. To learn more call us today at 480-360-0537.
What is the Probate Process?
The probate process can be different for each estate because not all estate circumstances are the same. The most common steps for Arizona probate attorneys include:
• Filing of a petition/application with the proper probate court.
• Notice to heirs under the will and statutory heirs (as if no will exists).
• Petition/ application to appoint Personal Representative (if nominated in the will) or Special Administrator for the estate.
• Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Personal Representative/Executor.
• Pay of estate debt to creditors.
• Sale of estate assets under certain circumstances.
• Pay of taxes (income and estate), if applicable.
• Accounting report to the Court.
• Proposal for Distribution of Assets to the Court.
• Petition or Application for Settlement of the Estate, if applicable.
• Legal Notice with detailed information must be lawfully provided to heirs under the will, statutory heirs (as if no will exists), and outstanding creditors or claimants, if applicable.
• Proof filed with the Court that Legal Notice with detailed information was lawfully provided to heirs under the will, statutory heirs (as if no will exists), and outstanding creditors or claimants if applicable.
• Final distribution of assets to heirs.
• Filing the Closing Statement and petitioning the court to close the estate if applicable.
Can someone help me as the Personal Representative or Executor of a Will?
Yes, in fact, it is advisable to have helped if you are nominated as a personal representative or executor of a will.
You can take some of the burdens off of your shoulders by hiring or employing helpers such as:
2) Real estate professional who is highly knowledgeable about the area
4) Cleaning Teams
5) Knowledgeable Probate Attorney
6) Various others depending on your situation
A knowledgeable Arizona probate attorney can save you or the estate countless amounts lost time, frustration, heartache, and pain. Additionally, in many cases, a knowledgeable Probate Attorney can save the estate $1,000’s by avoiding pitfalls and taking advantage of lesser-known rules and rights you, the estate, or the beneficiaries may have. We offer a tiered set of probate services from counseling and education sessions to full-service assistance. To learn more connect with a knowledgeable Probate Attorney at 480-360-0537.
What if someone objects to a Will?
An objection to a Will, also known as a “Will contest” is a fairly common occurrence during the probate proceedings and can be incredibly costly to litigate.
To contest a Will, someone needs a legal “standing” to raise objections. This usually occurs when, for example, children are to receive disproportionate shares under the Will, or when distribution schemes change from a prior Will to a later Will. In addition to disputes over the tangible distributions, Will contests can be a quarrel over the person designated to serve as Personal Representative.
Does a Personal Representative distribute all property of the deceased?
Not necessarily! Only probable assets will fall under the power of the Personal Representative/ Executor.
What assets do not go through Probate/ What are non-probate assets?
“Non-probate assets” do not go through probate. Such as:
• Joint tenants with right of survivorship pass to the survivor outside of probate.
• Designated Beneficiaries: Retirement accounts such as IRA and 401(k) accounts often have designated beneficiaries.
• Life insurance policies with listed beneficiaries.
• Bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) “transfer on death” (TOD) or “in trust for” designations.
• Property owned by a living trust. Legal title to such property passes to successor trustees avoids probate.
Can Personal Representative/ Executor get paid?
Executors are entitled to reimbursement for all legitimate out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the process of management and distribution of the estate. Additionally, you may be entitled to statutory fees which vary. The Personal Representative/ Executor has to fulfill all the fiduciary duties on behalf of the estate with the highest degree of integrity and can be held liable for mismanagement of the estate assets. To reduce or even avoid these known and unknown liabilities, hire a knowledgeable probate attorney. For peace of mind contact us at 480-360-0537.
How much does Probate cost? How long does it take?
The cost and duration of probate can vary widely depending on a number of factors. Location of the property, Will contests, creditor allegations, etc add to delay and cost to fulfill your wish. Common expenses of an estate include executor fees, attorney fees, accounting fees, court fees, appraisal costs, and surety bonds. Most estates are settled through probate in about 12 to 24 months, assuming there is no litigation involved. Hence, to find the most cost-effective Arizona probate lawyer, contact our attorneys at Arizona Law Doctor today at 480-360-0537.