Probate Lawyer Phoenix, AZ
A probate lawyer Phoenix, AZ can confide in is a state-licensed attorney who assists and advises the Personal Representative (Executor) through the probate process of settling a deceased person’s estate. To fully understand what a probate lawyer does, it is important to understand the process of probate.
What is Probate?
Historically, the term “Probate” exclusively meant the act of proving a Will’s validity. Now it has a much more general meaning, commonly referring to the process that is used to administer a deceased person’s estate, regardless if that person left behind a Will. Probate can be an expensive lengthy process, lasting anywhere from six months to a few years, depending on the complexity of the Estate and the court it is filed in.
Reasons Why Probate is Necessary
As probate lawyer Phoenix, AZ respects might attest, there are many reasons why the probate of an estate may be necessary, below are some of the most common:
- No Trust or Will: If the deceased did not leave behind any estate planning, then the probate process is used to determine who the beneficiaries are and how the assets should be titled and distributed.
- There is a Will: If the deceased left behind a Will clearly stating the beneficiaries, the estate must then go through the probate process in order to transfer the property to the deceased’s beneficiaries.
- Assets in Deceased’s Name: Probate is always required when a deceased person’s estate contains assets that are solely in the deceased’s name.
- No Beneficiaries Named: If the deceased did not name beneficiaries on assets like bank accounts, retirement plans, life insurance policies, etc., the accounts must pass through probate in order to transfer the funds or titles to those accounts.
- Joint Tenancy: If the deceased jointly owned property with another person, that property must go through probate to remove the deceased’s name from the title.
The Probate Process
The process of initiating and executing a probate will vary from state to state. But an experienced probate lawyer Phoenix, AZ relies on can tell a client that, generally, the process follows these 6 steps:
- File a Petition: Begin by filing a petition in the county where the deceased person lived or owned property. The petition will ask the court to officially acknowledge the Personal Representative and to approve the validity of the Will (if there was one).
- Give Notice to Interested Parties: Once approved by the court, the Personal Representative is required to provide Notice to all beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors of the deceased that the estate is in probate.
- Inventory the Assets: The Personal Representative will then inventory and appraise all the assets the deceased owned at the time of their death. Assets often include homes, cars, bank accounts, personal effects, etc.
- Pay Debts: Next, the Personal Representative will review and pay any outstanding debts the deceased had at the time of death. Taxes will also need to be filed.
- Distribute the Assets: Once all debts have been paid by the estate, the remaining assets will be distributed to the rightful beneficiaries/heirs.
- Close the Estate: The Personal Representative will submit a record of all payments and distributions made and ask the court to close the estate and relieve the Personal Representative of their role. Only after the court’s approval can the process of probate be considered complete.
Do you need a Probate Lawyer?
If a family member has passed, you will need a probate lawyer. Probate gets a bad rap because it can be expensive, stressful, and time consuming. But the right probate lawyer Phoenix, AZ recommends can help you through each step of the probate process.
The good news is that there are ways to set up your estate to avoid probate as much as possible. If a family member of yours has recently passed, or if you want to learn more about how your family can avoid probate upon your passing, consider meeting with a probate lawyer. At Kamper & Estrada, PLLC, our experienced probate attorney can help guide you through the probate process, and help you learn how to avoid it in the future. Call Kamper & Estrada, PLLC today, and talk to a top probate lawyer Phoenix, AZ has to offer.