After the death of a loved one, his or her estate needs to be collected and managed.

This process is called Estate Administration, and involves gathering the assets of the estate, paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the remaining assets. The exact process to administer an estate depends on the amount of planning that was done, whether there was a revocable trust or last will and testament. It depends on the value of assets that are in the estate, and how they were titled.

If there was a revocable trust in place there are requirements apply to administer the trust, these requirements are in the actual trust document itself along with statutory requirements from the Arizona trust code. If there is not a trust or if there are assets that were not titled in the name of the trust a Probate may be necessary to collect the assets of the estate. During your family Administration session your attorney will identify what process or processes are required to settle the estate.

If you are the person named as the Successor Trustee in the revocable trust or if you are named as the personal representative (commonly referred to as “executor”) in the last will and testament it is wise to seek counsel to help you administer the estate. As the Trustee or personal representative you are personally liable if you fail to properly administer the estate. This means that you can be sued and lose your personal assets if you do not act properly. The Trustee and personal representative are entitled to reasonable compensation for their service.

We generally recommend that they take the compensation because they have a serious job to do and it is important that it is handled properly. It is less common for the beneficiaries of an estate to need their own attorney. A beneficiary is a person that is entitled to inherit assets from the trust or estate. You can hire us to represent you as a beneficiary if you think that the Trustee or personal representative is not following their duty.