McDonald Warner - Probate, Elder Law, & Special Needs

How does probate work in Arizona?

When your parents pass on, most of their estate is likely to go through probate. This means legally accounting for and administering the deceased's property to all relevant parties. 

The process sounds pretty straightforward and simple, and it can be, but it also can be lengthy and confusing. Understanding how probate works can help you know how to help your parents with their estate planning to ensure there are no bumps in the road later on. It can also be beneficial for you if your parents named you the personal representative or executor of the estate.

Who has to go through probate?

Probate is necessary in most cases, though the formality of the process depends on the circumstances. If your parents have few assets, the estate may qualify for informal probate (or not need it at all). It entails filing paperwork with little court involvement. There are also ways to avoid probate even with numerous, valuable assets.

Formal probate applies when there is a will contest or no will (intestate) or when filing took place too late. Formal probate involves court hearings and other proceedings to resolve the matter, leading to a higher cost.

What are the steps to probate?

First, the personal representative has to notify the parties, including known and unknown creditors. The person must follow a specific order of which parties to pay first. The personal rep also takes control of, inventories and appraises assets. The next step is to file an account with the court or with the beneficiaries.

Last is completing a final tax return and distributing the assets. Once everything is done, the personal rep closes the account formally through the court or informally through the court clerk. 

How long does probate take?

Probate can take as little as a few months to as long as years. It all depends on how large the estate is, if there are any issues and how quickly the personal representative finishes duties. The stronger the estate plans, the less time it will take, too.

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