By EWN • 14 January 2022 • 10:08
When a loved one passes, one of the last things they want to think about dealing with is the legal and financial side of an individual’s death. But, unfortunately, for many family’s, it’s something they have to handle even though they may be feeling overwhelmed with feelings of grief and emotion.
A guide that can help you understand the Arizona probate process and proceedings will ensure a successful outcome.
Probate is the process of administering an estate after a decedent passes away. The probate court system in the jurisdiction where the decedent resided handles the process.
If the decedent had a will, the probate process mainly involves proving the will’s validity, executing its instructions, and paying any applicable taxes.
Probate proceedings can be very complex, so the will must be clearly written so that the process is as smooth as possible. A last will and testament dictates who receives the estate’s assets, who takes care of any minor children or dependents, and designates the specific executor of the will.
If a decedent dies without a will or intestate, the probate court system decides who the assets are distributed, following the state’s intestate laws where the proceedings are held.
The probate process can be broken down into five primary steps:
Step 1: Open probate
The executor files a petition with the probate court allowing them to start the process of probating the estate. It starts by proving the validity of the will. The probate court verifies whether a will is legally valid or not. The probate process cannot move forward until this is done.
Step 2: Send notices
The executor notifies any interested parties or creditors that the estate is being probated. Interested parties include those specified in the will as well as close relatives or family members who would be identified as next of kin by intestacy laws.
Step 3: Take inventory
The executor has to assess the estate’s total value, including all assets of the decedent at the time of their death. The complexity of this step depends on the type and volume of assets the decedent had.
Step 4: Distribute assets
This step is very time-consuming and could take several months, especially when significant assets such as a house are involved.
Step 5: Close estate
When all assets have been distributed, sold, or disposed of and the court and executor have been compensated, the estate can be closed.
When someone dies without a valid will, their assets are declared “intestate.” This means the courts have to decide who should receive assets. Generally speaking, the probate courts appoint a public administrator to act as an executor of sorts. They will administer the estate throughout the process.
The probate process can be very time-consuming and complex to navigate, regardless of the state that it takes place within. The steps have to be rigidly adhered to, and numerous variables can add challenges along the way.
The best way to navigate the process is to work with a licensed attorney in the state where the decedent resided at the time of their death.
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