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What can an Arizona personal representative do to recover estate assets?

Hi, I’m Kent Berk. I’m an attorney at the Scottsdale, Arizona, law firm of Berk Law Group, where we handle probate, trust, and estate, as well as real estate and other types of matters, here in Arizona.

One of the type of matters we handle is probate administration, or, in other words, dealing with administration of a probate estate, including to get probate opened, or have a will admitted to probate.

One of the issues that arises sometimes in the administration of a probate is identifying and collecting all of the assets that should be part of the probate. Fortunately, Arizona has a statute, A.R.S. §14-3709, which imposes the obligation on the personal representative, as well as gives the personal representative the power to go out and collect all the assets that are supposed to be part of the probate estate.

That power, under the statute, also gives the personal representative the power to gather documents that might reveal estate assets, or would be helpful and important in the administration of the estate.

Sometimes people who are holding property of the estate, or property that once belonged to the person who died, are uncooperative or difficult — won’t turn over documents or assets that belonged to the state.

This statue, 14-3709, includes a procedure whereby the personal representative can file a lawsuit, or a claim for an order of disclosure against the person who’s holding the documents or the assets, and basically pursue a lawsuit in order to recover the documents or get the assets.

If the person doesn’t cooperate, then the personal representative may be eligible to recover double damages and costs in attorney fees. ARS 14-3709 is a potentially powerful statute to deal with uncooperative third parties that won’t turn over assets, real estate, documents, personal property, financial instruments, whatever the case might be, that really belong to and should be part of the probate estate.

If you have any questions regarding the probate administration, or a probate, trust, or estate dispute, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Thank you.