Probate is the process of retitling assets out of the name of someone who has passed away so that the assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries. The word probate comes from the Latin word for “to prove or test” and refers to the courts legally authenticate a last will and testament.
Through the probate process, a court gives an order to retitle assets that were held solely by the deceased individual. If a last will and testament was prepared, the court will order the assets to be retitled according to the will. If there is not a will, then the Arizona Laws of Intestacy will determine the beneficiary. Arizona is a community property state, so the surviving spouses automatically inherits everything. If you die with children, but no spouse, the children inherit everything. If you die and you have a spouse, but your children are not decentness of that spouse then the assets are divided between them. In your free Family Administration Session, your attorney will determine if a probate is necessary and how to approach the distribution of the state based on the last will and testament or intestate succession.
What is the Probate Process?
The first step in the probate process is filing papers in the local probate court, or opening the probate. When a last will and testament exists, the personal representative named in the will is responsible for this filing and submitting the will to the court and verifying that the document is the most recent and is valid. If there is no will (the decedent dies “intestate”), the court will determine how an estate will be distributed, referring to the state laws of intestacy. If the person who dies owned property outside of Arizona, probate laws from the other states controls the probate of those properties outside of Arizona.
Next, the judge will issue “personal representative letters”, which are documents that give the personal representative the authority to act for the estate. These letters enable the personal representative to collect and distribute the decedent’s property to the heirs or beneficiaries after paying the debts and taxes of the decedent and all expenses related to the probate administration. A probate proceeding in Arizona can take anywhere from six to 12 months to complete. If any problems arise, it can take longer.
The probate process can be time-consuming and a burden at a time when families already face emotional obstacles. At Dana and Associates, our attorneys can help you through the process of probate and make sure that your duties as a personal representative are fulfilled. By working with an experienced probate lawyer, you can minimize the potential for personal liability should an error be made in the process of probate and will receive assistance should a problem arise with the estate. All required state and estate tax forms can also be filed with us. The probate process does not always move smoothly. Our goal is to make the process as easy as possible for someone who is going through an already difficult time.