Experienced Arizona Ancillary Probate and Trust Attorney Arizona Ancillary Probate Lawyer Matthew L. Howell Attorney at Law
Arizona Real Estate Trust Attorney
Arizona Ancillary Probate Specialist

Frequently Asked Questions And Answers for:

Probate Estate Administration

  1. WHEN IS A COURT PROBATE ADMINISTRATION REQUIRED? --

    a. Personal property--Only property titled solely in the decedent's name, without an automatic (surviving) designated beneficiary, needs to be probated. If the value of this "probate" property does not exceed $50,000 net of debts, then thirty days after the decedent's death, a simple affidavit can be used to administer the estate. If the probate property exceeds $50,000 in value, net of debts, then a court probate proceeding is necessary to administer and transfer title to it.

    b. Real property--Only property titled solely in the decedent's name, without an automatic (surviving) designated beneficiary, needs to be probated. If the value of this "probate" property does not exceed $50,000 net of debts, then six months after the decedent's death, a court filed affidavit can be used to administer the estate. If the probate real property exceeds $50,000 in value, net of debts, then a court probate proceeding is necessary to administer and transfer title to it.

  2. WHAT TYPE OF COURT PROBATE ADMINISTRATION IS AVAILABLE? -- If a small estate probate procedure is not available (see above), then one of three probate proceedings is available (depending on circumstances):

    a. Informal probate--This is the most common probate procedure in which an application to admit the decedent's will (if any) to probate and/or to appoint a personal representative is filed with the court along with several other documents; no court hearing is required; if the documents are in order the will (if any) will be accepted and the personal representative will automatically be appointed to administer the estate;

    b. Formal probate--Where circumstances will not allow informal probate, the petition to admit the decedent's will (if any) to probate and/or to appoint a personal representative is filed with the court; a court hearing is required and notice of the proceeding must be sent to all persons interested in the estate; after the court considers the petition it will determine whether the will (if any) should be accepted and the personal representative appointed to administer the estate;

    c. Supervised probate--Where substantial conflict is expected in probate administration, every important decision may be approved by the court; this procedure is rarely used and discouraged.

    Wills, Living Wills, Guardianship Phoenix Arizona
     

  3. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE COURT ADMITS THE WILL (IF ANY) AND APPOINTS THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE? -- In informal probate proceedings the personal representative must send to all interested persons (named beneficiaries of a will, the decedent's heirs at law--closest next of kin, and sometimes the decedent's creditors), a copy of the appointing documents and the will (if any) and a formal notice that they have a limited time to object to the admission of the will or appointment of the personal representative; also they must publish notice to creditors (whose claims are not known to the personal representative) to file such claims within a limited time or have them barred; for both formal and informal probate, the personal representative must use the letters of personal representative issued by the court to collect probate assets and file an inventory of estate assets and debts and provide a copy of them to the estate's interested parties--SEE CHECKLIST OF DUTIES TO ADMINISTER A PROBATE OR TRUST ESTATE for further administrative responsibilities.

  4. WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON DUTIES ASSOCIATED WITH THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE DECEDENT'S PROBATE (AND TRUST) ESTATE? -- Work to conclude the probate estate may include any or all of the following:

    a. Carry out the funeral arrangements and pay the funeral bill.

    b. Pay hospital and doctor bills and other expenses.

    c. File Medicare and/or insurance claims.

    d. Give notice of the decedent's death to the Social Security Administration, other appropriate governmental agencies, and/or private pension paying, etc., sources.

    e. If the decedent had a safe deposit box, make arrangements to collect the contents and close the box.

    f. Review legal and financial documents and make inquiries to banks and other organizations to verify the existence of assets and the value thereof (including appraisals of valuable property) and prepare an asset inventory valued as of the decedent's date of death.

    g. Make disposition of household furniture and furnishings, clothing, jewelry, and personal effects of the decedent.

    h. File claims to obtain proceeds of life insurance policies (if any).

    i. Determine whether any assets passed to surviving joint tenants or named beneficiaries directly and outside the estate.

    j. Establish interest-bearing bank accounts in the name of the estate (if not already established) and assign a tax identification number thereto.

    k. Provide for safeguarding of assets during the period of administration.

    l. Provide for upkeep and maintenance of any home, including adequate homeowner insurance, and prepare the home for sale or for distribution to beneficiaries.

    m. Provide for upkeep and maintenance of any motor vehicle(s), including adequate insurance coverage, and prepare the motor vehicle(s) for sale or distribution to beneficiaries.

    n. Sell assets at the best possible price (if sale of assets is necessary), or arrange for "in kind" distributions to beneficiaries.

    o. Pay all debts and taxes, as well as all expenses of administration of the estate.

    p. File final individual Federal and state income tax returns for the decedent for the year of death (short period runs from January 1, to date of death).

    q. Obtain clearance from taxing authorities in relation to income tax returns for prior years (if necessary).

    r. File Federal and state estate tax return(s)--if required.

    s. File documents to obtain an estate tax waiver from the State of Arizona (if required).

    t. File Federal and state fiduciary income tax returns for the estate for the period of administration (if required).

    u. Send accounting summary to beneficiaries (if necessary).

    v. Make distributions of assets to the beneficiaries named in the will (or, if none, according to the laws of intestate distribution), and obtain receipts from beneficiaries.

    w. Upon final distribution of assets, close the estate

  5. AFTER ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES ARE COMPLETE HOW IS THE ESTATE CLOSED?

    a. Informal probate--The personal representative files a final account of receipts and disbursements in the estate along with a Proposal For Final Distribution to the estate interested parties and if accepted by the beneficiaries, satisfies the final distributions and files a Closing Statement with the court and mails a copy of it to beneficiaries; under the statute if there is no subsequent court action within 2 years after the statement is filed, the estate is officially closed;

    b. Formal or Supervised probate--The personal representative files a petition requesting the court, after notice to interested parties and hearing, to judicially settle the estate's final account and proposal for final distribution.


FAQs Local Probate

Estate Planning

Wills

Durable Powers of Attorney

Probate Estate Administration

Guardianship-Conservatorship

Living Will Declaration

Living Trusts and Estate Plan

Marital Property Agreements

Trust Estate Administration


FAQs Local Probate | FAQs Ancillary Probate | About Us | Contact Us
Legal Services AZ Residents | Legal Services non-AZ Residents