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Understanding the informal probate process

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2022 | Firm News |

Probate is the process that consists of administering an individual’s estate after death, and its primary purpose is to prevent fraud. There are different types of probate, and informal is the one that most estates go through.

Informal probate is for when the decedent owned $75,000 or more in personal assets or at least $100,000 in real estate, and no one is challenging the validity of the will. With informal probate, there are no court hearings, and the court plays a very minor role.

Filing of probate

According to FindLaw, an individual must first file for an informal probate proceeding with the court. Only certain people can do this, and some include the spouse of the decedent, an adult child, an heir, a sibling or the person nominated in the will as the personal representative.

Role of the personal representative

The court must approve the person named as the personal representative, and if the will does not name one, the court appoints this individual. According to the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County, the personal representative plays a large role in the estate’s administration. Some of the duties include:

  • Locate, gather, inventory, valuate and protect the decedent’s assets
  • Inform all heirs
  • Give notice to creditors and pay the estate’s debts
  • Pay necessary expenses of the estate
  • File tax returns and pay all taxes due
  • Distribute assets to heirs after paying all expenses and debts

The personal representative has a fiduciary duty to follow the instructions in the will. The court determines the amount of compensation for the job performed by this individual, and factors considered include out-of-pocket expenses, liability assumed, time spent, experience and time spent away from regular employment.