Probate Lawyer Phoenix, AZ
What is a Power of Attorney?
When you lose a loved one, with or without a will existing, you will likely need to go through the probate process. If there are significant assets, potential problems, or a lot of tasks to take care of, it may be a good idea to consult a probate lawyer in Phoenix, AZ for advice.
What is the Role of an Executor?
If you have recently been named an executor of a last will and testament, you might feel honored. On the other hand, you may be confused and unsure about this role. By legal definition, an executor has the responsibility of ensuring a person’s last wishes are granted, and with regards to their assets. Before property and personal items can be distributed to the beneficiaries, the executor must make sure all debts are paid off. This role might seem simple; however, whether or not it will involve challenges or obstacles largely depends on the circumstances involved. If you have any questions about your role as an executor, you can call a probate lawyer in Phoenix, AZ for advice.
What Will Your Role Be As an Executor?
Contrary to what you might have thought, executors don’t have to be estate planning lawyers, nor do they need any special qualifications. It does require you to be honest, diligent, truthful, and responsible. As the executor you will have a fiduciary duty to act in good faith in regards to the decedent’s will. Failure to adhere to this duty could result in legal consequences.
You will not be entitled to any proceeds from the sale of any assets or property belonging to the estate. Rather, you may be entitled to a percentage of the estate as compensation for your role. The fee will depend on the size of the estate, but could be 5-15%.
The Duties of an Executor
The duties of an executor can vary, depending on what is included in the will, the size of the estate, whether there are any will challenges, and much more. Your duties may include:
Locating All of the Decedent’s Assets – You will have the duty of finding all of the decedent’s assets and keeping them safe until they can be distributed. You may also have to value the assets and determine whether or not any of them need to be sold to pay off debts.
Determine Whether or Not You Must Probate the Will – In general, most wills must go through the probate process. This will involve many steps and include getting the court to approve the validity of the last living will and testament. A probate lawyer in Phoenix, AZ can help you to determine whether or not you will need to go through probate.
Locating those Named in the Will – As the executor, you will need to locate everyone named in the will. You will also have to ensure these beneficiaries receive the assets they are entitled to.
File the Will – Regardless of whether or not the will has to pass through probate, it will likely need to be filed at court.
Finalize the Decedent’s Affairs – You will need to wrap of the affairs of the decedent by canceling their credit cards. Notifying creditors and banks about the death, and call the Social Security Administration (if they were collecting SSA).
Set Up A Bank- In general, executors will need to keep all money related to the estate seperate. A probate lawyer in Phoenix, AZ will likely advise you to set up a bank account specifically for estate related matters.
Continue Any Payments – Money held in the bank account can be used to pay off recurring payments, such as a mortgage, while the will is being administered.
Pay Off Debts – Before any beneficiary can receive an inheritance, all debts must be paid off. This includes credit card debts, hospital debts, and taxes.
Distribute the Assets – Once the aforementioned has been completed, the remaining assets can be distributed to the named beneficiaries.
Kamper Estrada Answers Your Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Power of Attorney?
A quality power of attorney lawyer Phoenix has to offer will recommend you have a power of attorney created. You may have heard the term “power of attorney”, but do you really know what is means? Read on to find on what a power of attorney is, and why you need one.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney allows you to appoint a person or entity, often called your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” to act in your place for specific reasons if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so.
Creating a power of attorney does not mean you are signing your powers away, instead it is enabling you to continue to make decision (via an agent)
There are Different Types of Power of Attorney
As a power of attorney lawyer Phoenix relies on might tell you, “power of attorney” can seem like a bit of a blanket term, but the truth is there are a variety of types that give the attorney-in-fact specific powers:
- General Power of Attorney: this is the broadest type. So broad, in fact, that it usually allows your attorney-in-fact to make and decisions or actions that you yourself could make.
- Special Power of Attorney: this is a more specific document; it states exactly what the attorney-in-fact can do and nothing more. This type of power of attorney is often used when someone is unable to handle a specific affair due to other commitments or health reasons.
- Health Care Power of Attorney: this document will grant your attorney-in-fact the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney lawyer Phoenix has faith in might recommend both financial and medical power of attorney documents.
- Durable Power of Attorney: like a general or special power of attorney, this document allows for your attorney-in-fact to make financial decisions on your behalf. However, it also has a durability provisions which provides that if, upon the evaluation of a medical doctor, you are deemed mentally incompetent, the power of attorney will remain valid. Often you’ll see the general and durable combined into one “General Durable Power of Attorney.”
No matter what, an attorney-in-fact will never have carte balance to do what they want with you and your assets. Whoever is acting on your behalf will still have fiduciary obligations. Put simply, just because they have the power doesn’t mean they have the right.
How Do I Make a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney lawyer Phoenix is proud to have can talk you through the steps of creating a power of attorney. Since the concept of a power of attorney is not on the minds of most people day to day, it is best to hire a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and probate. The names of lawyers in your state who have passed the bar exam is public information, so with a bit of research you can confirm that the person creating your estate plan is a bar certified lawyer.
While there certainly are other options for creating an estate plan without a lawyer, like DIY forms you can purchase from websites, no standard template can substitute for an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer.
What Happens After I Die?
All power of attorney documents will terminate upon death. It is important to have a Will or Trust in place so that your loved ones to have to deal with the hassle of probating your estate. A probate lawyer Phoenix, AZ depends on might recommend you create an entire estate plan, which will often include a will and power of attorney, among other important documents:
- Last Will and Testament
Your Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows you to clearly communicate your end of life wishes for your assets and for your family members. A complete Last Will and Testament should clearly outline the following:
- The Executor or Personal Representative: the people you appoint to carry out the provisions of your Will upon your death.
- The Beneficiaries: the people who will be inheriting your assets
- Instructions for How and When to distribute the Assets
- Guardians for Minor Children: the people you wish to legally care for your minor children if you became incapacitated or pass away
- General Durable Power of Attorney
Any competent estate planning lawyer Phoenix, AZ endorses will probably include a Financial Power of Attorney. This document allows you to appoint a representative to manage your finances should be unable to do so for yourself.
- Healthcare Directives
- Healthcare Power of Attorney: this document allows you to appoint a representative to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so for yourself.
- Living Will: in this document, you can specifically outline any healthcare services you wish to receive, or perhaps more importantly, those you DO NOT wish to receive.
- HIPPA Authorization: this document allows you to name an individual who can have access to your medical information so that your health care provider or insurance company have no reservations about sharing your protected medical information with them.
If you have a lot of assets, a power of attorney lawyer Phoenix confides in may suggest you create a Living Trust. A Living Trust is an entity created during the Grantor’s lifetime to hold and manage assets. There are many advantages in creating a trust, including avoiding probate.
You work hard for your money and for your family, creating a power of attorney allows you to make sure both are properly cared for in the event that you are incapacitated. If you’ve been thinking about creating a power of attorney, contact Kamper Estrada, LLP, a power of attorney lawyer Phoenix is proud to rely on, for a free initial consultation.
If you have further questions about being an executor of an estate, call a probate lawyer in Phoenix, AZ.