Probate Attorney Phoenix, AZ
While many people recognize probate as the court-supervised process of overseeing the distribution of a decedent’s assets, they may not understand how the whole thing works and may meet with a Probate Attorney in Phoenix, AZ at Kamper Estrada, LLP for help. Probate has a set order, and it all has to do with the authentication of a will and determining asset value before distribution. There are at least eight steps to probate:
#1 Authentication of the Will
Upon death, most states require that the last will and testament of the decedent be filed with the probate court. Once submitted, an Arizona Probate Attorney in Phoenix can get you the documents you need to petition the probate process. After the filings, a judge will authenticate the will, having a hearing to listen to any concerns. Once verified, the court will appoint an executor.
#2 Appointment of an Executor
While the will might designate an executor, the court will appoint if not, and this person is typically next of kin. The named person will receive documentation or letters of testamentary that allow them to deal with and distribute assets.
As a Probate Attorney in Phoenix at Kamper Estrada, LLP may explain, though a bond is not always required, it is a form of insurance to protect the executor and the estate. The bond kicks in if the executor makes an error or acts criminally and will reimburse the estate.
Once the executor is chosen and any bond payments taken care of, the executor can begin locating the decedent’s assets and taking possession of them. All assets can typically be identified by reviewing documents, like insurance policies and tax returns. Essentially, all assets must be maintained and protected throughout the probate process.
#5 Determination of Values
Next, the executor will have to determine the date of death values for all assets, which might be done with the help of a court-appointed appraiser. The final valuation will likely need to be submitted to the court in a report.
#6 Identification of Creditors and Paying Debts
After an evaluation is complete, the executor will need to notify all creditors of the decedent’s passing. If not all creditors are known, then the court may allow a death notice to be published in a newspaper. Creditors can then make claims against the estate which are either honored or challenged. If you aren’t sure whether a creditor is being honest or fraudulent, we suggest meeting with a Probate Attorney in AZ for advice.
Then, the executor must file the decedent’s final income tax returns. They must also determine any estate taxes owed. Any taxes owed are paid from the estate funds.
#8 Distribution of Assets
Finally, when all debts are settled, the executor petitions the court for permission to distribute the remainder of the estate to any named beneficiaries. The final distribution may include the establishment of trusts and handling of bequests.
Although many people are familiar with the term probate, they may not understand the process entirely and often seek guidance from a legal professional.
Contact a Phoenix, AZ Probate Attorney at Kamper Estrada, LLP for a free consultation about probate by calling our offices during open hours, leaving a message, responding to our customer service live chat, or sending us an email.