By GNGF on September 3rd, 2022 in
What Are the Steps in the AZ Probate Process? Depending on your assets and estate planning documents, such as your will, when you die, your estate may have to go through probate. The probate process varies from state to state and depends on individual circumstances. Here is an overview of the Arizona probate process and what it entails.
When the testator of a will dies, the executor, also referred to as the personal representative, will typically need to file the will with the court. The filing is done to request the probate court acknowledge the executor as the testator’s representative. And, if there is a will, that the court accept the will as the person’s last will. That is the will that will govern administration of the estate. If there is no will, Arizona’s intestacy laws will apply.
Suppose there is no will, so the decedent did not name a personal representative. In that case, Arizona law has a list of individuals with priority, starting with the decedent’s surviving spouse. If there is a will, the person named as personal representative in the will has priority for appointment.
However, the probate court may still disqualify someone if they are unfit. Some of the reasons an individual might be disqualified from performing the duties of a personal representative include:
- If they are under 18 years old
- If they are not of sound mind
- If they are found to be unsuitable
If there is no challenge or dispute, the court will generally approve the request for appointment of personal representative. In addition, unless there is an objection or some defect, the court will validate the will. If there is a dispute, contest or challenge, the matter will then proceed as a contested probate matter or “probate litigation.”
In uncontested cases, after appointment by the Court, the personal representative of the will then must give notice to heirs and publish a notice notifying all potential creditors that a probate has been opened. The notice must be published in a local newspaper. A copy of the notice should also be mailed to all known creditors. The creditors can then file a claim within four months after the published notice. Known creditors who have already received the notice can file a claim within the later of 60 days of actual notice or the four-month period from first publication.
Once the personal representative is appointed, he/she then must administer the estate. Administration includes making an inventory and valuation of all of the decedent’s property. The personal representative must also gather and settle bills and creditor claims, collect, sell and distribute the decedent’s assets, file and pay taxes, among many other tasks. For a more detailed list of potential tasks for the personal representative, check out our 100+ Point Probate Checklist.
Closing the Estate
The probate process is not considered incomplete in Arizona, unless certain conditions are met. For the probate process to be considered complete, the personal representative must, among other things:
- Pay all of the decedent’s bills
- Sell or distribute all of the estate’s assets
- File the final tax return for the decedent
- Resolve all of the decedent’s affairs
- File a closing statement or a request with the probate court to close the probate estate
Although the closing of the probate marks the end of this process, certain circumstances may warrant the need to reopen probate. Examples of such circumstances include the discovery of undistributed assets, errors in the probate process, discovering an heir and other issues.
How Long Does the AZ Probate Process Take?
In Arizona, the probate process should remain open for at least four months. This window allows creditors to make their claims before the estate is closed. However, it is important to note that the duration of probate depends on the individual case.
For example, if one party challenges the appointment of a certain individual as the personal representative of the estate, this could lead to lengthy legal battles. The same also applies if there is a will contest or difficulty locating and recovering assets. Probates that involve complex legal battles can last a year or even longer.
The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to probate. Speaking with an experienced Arizona probate attorney will help you understand the timeline and issues involved in your specific situation.
Contact an Arizona Probate Attorney from Berk Law Group
Whether you are the personal representative, or a beneficiary, it is vital to understand the probate process in Arizona. Knowing what this process entails will help you make informed decisions and protect your rights. At Berk Law Group, our team of experienced Arizona probate attorneys can give you the probate assistance you need.
Located in Scottsdale, we specialize in litigating all kinds of probate, trust, and estate disputes in Arizona. Our attorneys have years of experience fighting for the rights and interests of clients in Scottsdale and throughout Arizona.
The probate process has little room for mistakes. Mistakes can be costly or even ruin relationships. For this reason, it is important that you make the right decisions from the very beginning. The right decision may start with that one phone call to the right experienced attorney.
Call us today at 480-907-0078 or online to schedule a consultation with one of our Arizona probate litigation specialists.