You’ve been appointed as a personal representative of someone’s estate. Now what? What do you have to do, what are the steps to administering the estate?
I’m Kent Berk, I’m an attorney at the Scottsdale, Arizona, law firm of Berk Law Group, where we handle probate, estate, trust, and other types of matters in Arizona.
The steps of administering someone’s estate as personal representative can be very involved and time consuming. The basic steps are, first, you need to give notice to the legal heirs of the person who died, give notice also to the creditors or anyone that the person might have owed money to. You next need to identify and determine what assets are actually part of the estate.
Any assets that are what’s called non-probate transfers, assets that are, for example, multiparty bank accounts or real estate that was owned joint tenancy with right of survivorship, are typically not part of the probate estate and would not be part of what the personal representative is obligated to administer.
First, you need to identify what the probate assets are. You need to collect them, protect them from damage, make sure that you have insurance on the assets. You also need to determine what rightful debts are owed. After you’ve collected all the assets and given notice to creditors, whatever rightful debts are owed need to be paid.
Whatever is left over then is distributed pursuant to the terms of the person’s Will. If there’s no Will or the Will is determined to be invalid, then the net assets, whatever is left over, would be distributed by Arizona’s intestate laws to the legal heirs of the person that died.
Those are the basic steps in administering a probate. At the conclusion of the probate or periodically, you would also need to give an accounting to the beneficiaries or the heirs. Then, ultimately, file a closing statement with the probate court in order to conclude the probate.
There’s more involved in administering the probate and more duties of a personal representative, but that’s a basic overview.
If you have any questions or you need help administering a probate estate or a trust, please don’t hesitate to contact us.