Probate Attorney in Surprise, Arizona

Probate is the court-supervised process of authenticating a last will and testament of a deceased person. It is a legal proceeding that involves identifying and determining the value of the person’s assets, paying their final bills and taxes, and distributing the remainder of the estate to their rightful heirs and beneficiaries. The probate court officially recognizes the death of the loved one and supervises the distribution of the estate.

Probate laws may differ from state to state. Therefore, it is important to seek legal assistance from a credible Surprise probate attorney to help you know your state’s mandates so your final wishes can be administered efficiently. State laws vary on what happens if you die with or without a will.

At The Dodds Law Firm, PLC, we are dedicated to helping families through difficult times by providing honest advice on legal issues related to asset protection, probate, and other concerns regarding estate planning. We will work with you and your family to achieve these goals while protecting your assets.

Call us today at 623-323-9056 and schedule an initial consultation.

Civil Dispute in AZ? Ask an Experienced Attorney

Business, construction, contract and other civil disputes in Arizona require the kind of experienced, trusted legal advice you will get at the Dodds Law Firm. We help people avoid legal problems but when they are unavoidable, we get results. Call us or request a consultation today.

Request A Consultation

Probate With A Will

probate attorney

A will, also called the last will and testament, is a legal document that states your wishes and intentions for the distribution of your assets and wealth after your death. If you have children, writing a will allows you to appoint a person who will take care of them and fulfill the guardianship on your behalf.

Probate can occur with a properly drafted will. A deceased loved one who has written a will is known as a testator. When a testator dies testamentary (with a will), the deceased loved one (decedent) will name and nominate an executor for the distribution of the estate. The court officially appoints the executor named in the will, which gives him or her legal power to act on behalf of the deceased.

The executor of the will is responsible for filing the will and initiating the probate process. The timeframe in which a will must be filed after death may differ in each state. Therefore, a reliable probate attorney in Arizona can help you comply with the state laws.

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. 

Probate Without A Will

When you die without a will, your beneficiaries will be determined by the law and will usually be the next of kin. Therefore, creating a will is important if you want to appoint a specific person to be the executor of your will and the beneficiaries of your estate.

If a loved one dies without a will, they have died intestate. In this case, the probate court will appoint an administrator of the decedent’s estate. The administrator has the same responsibilities as an executor, paying off the outstanding debts and receiving all legal claims against the estate. Moreover, the administrator is assigned to locate the decedent’s legal heirs such as children, parents, and surviving spouses.

The probate process for an intestate estate involves the distribution of the decedent’s assets in compliance with state laws. A top-ranking probate attorney in Surprise can help you understand the probate rules in this type of estate. If a deceased person has no assets, probate may not be required. The probate court will evaluate the assets to be distributed among the legal heirs and how to distribute them.

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.

Hire an Experienced Arizona Probate Attorney Now!

Losing a loved one can be extremely difficult and stressful. If you are named as an executor or an administrator of an estate, it is highly advisable to speak to our competent Surprise probate lawyers at The Dodds Law Firm, PLC to get help throughout the probate process. Probate lawyers can help take the emotion out of the equation and ensure that proper steps are taken.

Our estate planning law firm has a decade worth of experience routinely handling probate administration matters in and around the Surprise area. We can assist the executor, administrator, and beneficiaries in settling an estate according to state law. We can help your family in setting up an estate plan and dealing with probate and taxes.

Get in touch with us today at 623-323-9056 for a free consultation.