Probate Attorney in Surprise, Arizona

The government needs a way to deal with the financial effects of someone passing away, making sure that debts are paid and collected, survivors are taken care of, and the deceased’s property is distributed following their wishes. Every state, including Arizona, uses this legal process called probate to keep things in order following a death.

We know of the stress and difficulty associated with finalizing a family member’s affairs. Our knowledgeable Phoenix probate lawyer can assist in a variety of ways. Sometimes a consultation is all that is required to address concerns and offer guidance.

The Dodds Law Firm may outline the procedure, talk about and create an action plan to achieve client goals, and keep clients updated at every stage. A crucial first step in assisting families with probate or estate planning issues is to provide information and respond to inquiries.
Contact us right away to become one of the clients in Arizona whose legal problem we helped to settle throughout our two decades of legal assistance.

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Why do I need a Probate attorney in Arizona?

probate attorneyHiring a skilled probate attorney in Arizona can assist with the management and distribution of the decedent’s estate, whether you’re the executor, beneficiary, or heir. The complicated probate process is facilitated by attorneys in this field. Here is a list of the various reasons for hiring an Arizona probate lawyer.

Improve the effectiveness of the probate process

The probate procedure is notorious for being difficult and drawn out. At every point, probate lawyers assist in streamlining the complex procedure. An adept probate lawyer aids in doing everything in line with Arizona law, from making filings to allocating assets. Remember that the court rejects many of the cases filed by individuals on their own. You’ll resolve the estate more quickly and with less frustration if you hire a probate lawyer.

Help resolve family disputes

It’s not unusual for there to be some tension within the family over a deceased person’s estate. It’s possible that the decedent left no will or that somebody was left out of the will. Conflicts can develop where no amount of reconciliation is possible. A probate lawyer can assist everyone come to an agreement without jeopardizing relationships because they are trained to handle cases like this.

Develop agreements between heirs

Attorneys for probate aid in facilitating agreements to resolve ongoing will-related issues. For instance, a mother may have handed down her home to five children, but only four of them are able to reside there. Another example would be if a parent left a business to each of his children, but one of them begs to be bought out. Additionally, if there was no will, the heirs would all be in different circumstances. In order to successfully settle the estate, contact between the heirs might be facilitated by a probate attorney.

Help with a contested will

Some wills are easy to understand, while others are not. The court will probably get involved if an heir or beneficiary challenges the will. It’s challenging to represent yourself in a contested will case. There are deadlines for discovery and requirements for evidence presentation in court. In addition to being expensive, trying to handle this on your own may result in losing some of your legal rights.

Make decisions about technical problems

It’s challenging to comprehend every aspect of probate. Technical problems with certain trusts or tax-advantaged ownership could exist. An experienced probate lawyer will have the solutions to prevent tainting the title of the estate’s assets. They are fully aware of the assets that must go through the probate procedure.

Control debt collectors

Almost no one passes away without having some sort of debt. A probate lawyer is aware of which creditors get the right to payment even if they all have the right to payment. A probate lawyer can also assist in reducing the creditor’s claim. Additionally, they will take the required steps to safeguard the assets that are shielded from creditors’ claims.

Manage complex tax issues

There are some estates that are liable to a death tax even if the majority are not. A death tax is imposed on large estates with $5 million or more in assets. To manage the death tax imposed on the estate by the federal and state governments, you would need the assistance of a knowledgeable probate lawyer. By creating a tax ownership advantage structure, they can assist in reducing some of the taxes owed by the estate. When doing this, a ton of paperwork and expertise are needed. The structure can be explained and defended to the appropriate authorities by a probate lawyer. When managing the probate of larger estates, there is a lot at stake.

There are numerous benefits to working with a skilled probate lawyer during the probate process. There may be issues that you never even consider. A probate attorney’s duties include obtaining an appraisal of the decedent’s property, collecting and managing life insurance proceeds, safeguarding all of the decedent’s assets, offering advice on how to pay bills and resolve debt, preparing documents needed by the probate court, determining if any estate taxes are owed, and handling the estate’s checkbook. That’s a lot to manage on your own, which is why you need our skilled Arizona Probate attorney’s assistance.

Contact Dodds Law Firm right away!

What is a Probate?

The process of managing a decedent’s estate under judicial supervision is known as probate. Verifying a will, paying off debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries are all steps in the probate process.

Probates with no will

The court will apply state intestacy statutes to distribute the decedent’s assets if they passed away “intestate,” meaning they did not have a will.

Probate with will

If the decedent left a will, the court first decides if it is genuine and legitimate. The individual designated in the will typically serves as the personal representative appointed by the court to manage the estate.

The Executor of the Will

The appointed executor will receive letters testamentary from the court. These letters are the court order naming the executor and identifying the powers that he or she will have in managing the estate. When naming an executor, you may also consider alternatives aside from family and friends.

You may choose a trusted friend or relative as an executor. While a family member may have a full understanding of your wishes, choosing a sibling as an executor may cause jealousy and family disputes. Moreover, choosing your child as an executor may not be advisable as well. The child may lack the financial knowledge and experience in addressing the possible issues during the probate case. Another option is to consider a professional fiduciary. Although professional fiduciaries must be paid, the experience that they have can help maximize the benefit to the beneficiaries of the will and maintain family harmony.

The executor is mainly in-charge of managing the assets of the decedent and ensuring that assets are properly distributed to the named beneficiaries and heirs. He or she is responsible for locating assets, paying debts, filing taxes, and distributing the estate. A knowledgeable Surprise probate lawyer can give legal advice to the executor of an estate or the beneficiary on various legal matters.

Furthermore, your executor must find and manage your assets during the probate process. He or she can decide whether to sell your assets based on the total amount of your debt and the contents of your will. Your creditors will be notified by your the executor and all the debts attached to the estate will be paid off before the final distribution.

What are the types of Probate?

Arizona offers a number of choices if the property must go through probate.

Informal Probate

Whenever there is a valid will that’s not been challenged, informal probate is employed since it is the easiest type of probate. The estate is managed by the personal representative designated by the court with little oversight from the court.

Formal Probate

When there is a disagreement regarding the validity of a will, who should be named the personal representative, or how a will should be interpreted, the court will employ formal probate to settle the matter.

Supervised Probate

For some estates, supervised probate is necessary, in which case the court will supervise each stage of the probate procedure. This means that before taking any acts, such as paying creditors or dispersing assets, the personal representative must appear before the court and request permission. Anyone with a stake in an estate has the right to ask for supervised probate. When it becomes necessary to safeguard an inheritor, creditor, or other interested party, probate courts typically order monitored probate.

How Does Probate Works?

The steps in the legal probate process are as follows:

Submit Death Certificate

The probate procedure will first be initiated by an executor or representative of the estate by submitting the death certificate and the will to the probate court. In the absence of a will, the deceased is intestate. Intestate probate procedures are started by the court and take longer than if a will existed. The procedure is streamlined if there is a will.

Verify the Will

If a testator has left a will, the court authenticates it to ensure that it is the testator’s genuine, intended will. Additionally, they confirm that the will has the necessary notary and witnesses, as needed by state law.

A “self-proving” affidavit in your will, will hasten the probate procedure. The authenticity of the will is attested to in this affidavit, which the witnesses sign in front of a notary. This avoids the process of having the witnesses give a court testimony attesting to the legitimacy of the will.

Choose on a Personal Representative

The person chosen to manage the estate must then receive the judge’s approval in probate court. The executor or personal representative mentioned in your will is chosen by the judge. The judge will select someone, typically a member of the family, to manage the estate if there’s no will.

Letters testamentary, which effectively give the personal representative authorization to manage the decedent’s estate, will be given to the personal representative. These letters are used by the personal representative to communicate with banks and lawyers and administer the estate.

Post a Bond

The court may order the personal representative to post a probate bond because they will be handling money, assets, and property. The estate covers the expense of the bond. However, you might specify in your will that the personal representative’s bond is not necessary. Your estate will avoid incurring further costs as a result.

Alert Beneficiaries and Creditors

Identifying beneficiaries and informing creditors of the probate administration are now the duties of the personal representative. After that, the creditors have a certain amount of time to file claims against the estate. They cannot pursue those claims for payment if they don’t answer in that time.

Appraise Your Assets and Property to Ascertain the Value of Your Estate

All assets subject to probate must also be valued by the personal representative as well. Creating an inventory of personal property, appraising assets, and acquiring real estate assessments may be necessary to do this. To ascertain the worth of properties, the personal representative may hire appraisers.

Pay valid debts

Funeral costs, medical bills from a recent sickness, and taxes are typically the first debts paid from your inheritance. Any legitimate creditor claims are then paid by the personal representative. On behalf of the estate, the personal representative has the authority to contest or resolve creditor claims.

Allocate Assets to Beneficiaries

The personal representative allocates the remaining assets towards the beneficiaries specified in your will after settling estate obligations, taxes, and claims. Your heirs will be paid out in accordance with state intestacy laws if there is no will.

Close the Estate

The personal representative submits a final accounting to the court to end probate. All of the estate’s assets and the income generated from them are listed in the final accounting. The report also lists all debts paid in full as well as any distributions made to heirs or beneficiaries.

The personal representative is released from their probate responsibilities, and the probate estate is formally closed after the court accepts this report.

Contact our Arizona law office for assistance with this complex process.

What is Subject to Probate?

Your probate estate includes any assets and properties that are solely in your name. For instance, the value of any property you owned that was solely titled in your name would be added to your total probate estate. Therefore, knowing what probate property is useful.

Many assets, such as a bank account with a “transfer-on-death” (TOD) designation, transfer without going through probate. If you designate a beneficiary for a transfer-on-death, they will get the bank account after your passing. Therefore, probate is not necessary. Similarly, life insurance proceeds do not become a part of your estate because they are paid out directly to your designated beneficiaries.

Other assets and properties that are exempt from probate include:

  • Bank and investment accounts with beneficiaries who receive transfers upon death
  • Retirement accounts such as IRAs that have transfer-on-death beneficiaries
  • Property that is held in joint tenancy
  • Named beneficiary life insurance policies
  • Lifetime gifts and allocations
  • Any property that is kept in a trust

The following are some examples of assets or property that go through probate:

  • Any retirement or stock account, bank account, or financial account in your name solely
  • Named real estate only in your name
  • RVs, boats, and cars with your name alone on the title

However, be aware that if you leave any accounts without a beneficiary designation, those accounts will become part of your probate estate. Moreover, assume that the beneficiary you designate on an account passes away before you do. If such is the case, the account might not belong to anyone and end up in your probate estate.

Again, a probate court manages assets without a named owner. Therefore, you can considerably lower your probate estate if you plan early.

Frequently Asked Questions about Probate

Who is in charge of managing probate?

Typically, the will’s executor takes this responsibility. The probate court appoints a person (referred to as an administrator) to oversee the procedure if there is no will or if the will fails to identify an executor. The nearest qualified relative or the individual who receives the majority of the decedent’s assets typically gets the job.

The court doesn’t assign an estate administrator where there is no need for a formal probate case. An informal estate representative is instead a close family or friend. Family and friends typically choose this individual, and it is normal for numerous persons to undertake the duties of paying off debts, submitting a final income tax return, and allocating property to the rightful owners.

How long does the probate take?

A simple estate without difficulties might be probated in nine to a year. However, it might take two years or more if there’s a will contest or a large estate.

Should I make plans to avoid probate?

Beneficiaries are rarely benefited by probate, and they are always forced to spend money and effort on it. Only if your estate will have challenging issues, such as numerous debts that won’t be easily paid from the assets you leave behind, does probate make sense.

Your age, health, and wealth are the three biggest determinants of whether you should invest time and energy into arranging to avoid probate. If you establish a comprehensive probate-avoidance plan when you’re still young and healthy, you could have to redo it later on when your circumstances change. And if you own a little amount of property, you might not want to waste your time making plans to avoid probate since your assets might be eligible for your state’s streamlined probate process.

But you should make some preparations to avoid probate if you’re over 50, unwell, or have a significant amount of property.

How Can the Probate Process Be Sped Up?

If you can’t completely avoid probate, you can considerably reduce the duration of the probate process by following these three steps:

1. Form a Will

Get a valid will signed initially under the laws of Arizona. You have designated beneficiaries for your possessions if you have a will. Intestate succession rules are not necessary for a court to decide who will receive your property.

2. Use “Self-Proving” Affidavit

Second, utilize a “self-proving” affidavit if your state permits it, so the will is already authenticated. The witnesses are not required to appear in court to attest to the authenticity of the will.

3. Reduce Probate Estate

Third, use the methods above to reduce your probate estate amount. The chance that you will undergo a streamlined probate process increases with the size of your estate.

When Probate Is Not Necessary?

For very modest estates, probate may not always be required. If they are eligible for a small estate streamlined probate process, even modest to moderate estates can skip a full probate procedure.

Revocable living trust, irrevocable trust, and testamentary trust are all examples of trusts that allow for the transfer of estates without the need for probate.

Avoiding Probate

There can be several benefits to avoiding probate, including time, cost, and privacy. Without a will, the probate process can take a long time. It comes with legal fees, administrative expenses, and executor fees. Another factor why people want to avoid probate is for privacy reasons. Probate processes are public, but creating a trust keeps the distribution of assets private and confidential

You can minimize the pressure of probate for your loved ones by establishing a living trust, keeping your estate small, or by jointly owning a title property. When you create and fund a living trust, your trustee controls your assets and is obligated to distribute them under the terms of the trust agreement. Furthermore, most states set an exemption level for probate, providing at least an expedited process for what is deemed a small estate. In addition, making your spouse a joint owner of a property facilitates the transfer of the asset without the need for probate.

Closing a Probate

Closing a person’s estate after they die can often be a long and complicated process. Seeking legal help from a qualified Surprise probate lawyer can help ease this burden. The process includes paying off debts, filing final tax returns, and distributing the estate’s assets according to the wishes of the deceased.

After all the assets have been identified, all the rightful beneficiaries have been recognized, and all taxes and expenses of the state have been settled, the executor will submit a plan of distribution to the probate court.

Once all assets are allocated accordingly, the executor must file a closing statement or closing affidavit with the probate court. This document serves as a formal notice that all property has been distributed and all other estate obligations have been taken care of. Closing the estate releases an executor from the assigned duties.

Call our Phoenix Probate Lawyers Now!

Although it might seem difficult, most jurisdictions offer papers to help with the probate process. You could feel more at ease and get through the process more swiftly if you have an experienced Phoenix probate lawyer on your side. We will be pleased to meet with you, go over your situation, and assist you to determine whether a probate is necessary or if there is a better method for the quick administration of an estate.

You can also get assistance from the Dodds Law Firm with other legal issues, such as bankruptcy, family law, and civil litigation. Call us right away!