When someone dies, the need arises to resolve their final affairs. Most of the time, Arizona law allows people to complete this process in a fairly expeditious manner. However, with larger estates and estates with certain types of assets, a court proceeding may be necessary. This process is commonly known as probate.
People often worry about having to open an estate, and they take measures to avoid probate. However, with help from an experienced lawyer, administering a probate estate does not have to be that complicated. At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, we can help you to navigate the probate court process and handle your loved one’s final affairs in a timely fashion. To learn more, contact us today and schedule a consultation with one of our probate lawyers through our Surprise office.
In Arizona, an estate can be resolved in one of three ways:
Additionally, a person nominated as personal representative in the person’s will can use the small estates process, or a creditor (once 45 days have passed since the death). To take advantage of the small estates process, all claims must be paid, federal tax filings must be complete, and any real estate must be worth less than $100,000.
The traditional formal probate process is necessary when more than $75,000 in assets or other reasons for using the court exist, including disputes, lawsuits, contested claims, creditor disputes or a will contest, etc.). This just means you must file official court documents and provide proper notices to all involved parties.
If there are disputes or fights over assets, a proceeding may become supervised. This means the probate courts will require regular reports and accounting of all the debts and assets. This is designed to keep transparency and avoid any concealed assets.
Despite common misconceptions, most of the assets that people have are actually not even subject to probate. Many assets do not pass through a probate estate. For instance, most pensions, retirement accounts and life insurance policies will have a beneficiary designation. If so, the money passes directly to those individuals without being considered a probate asset. The same goes for real estate and bank accounts that have a surviving joint tenant. Likewise, trust assets typically are not a part of probate. So, a probate estate acts as a catch-all to collect all remaining assets of one’s estate.
Having a will generally does not determine whether you require a probate estate to be opened. It merely states the deceased person’s wishes and often makes the proceeding much smoother and more cost-effective by avoiding things like bond requirements.
Anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one should not have to deal with the many complex legal issues surrounding wills and estates under Arizona law without the help of a legal professional, especially if a case must go through the formal probate process. Here is how the process works:
If you are currently concerned because there is a dispute about the closing of an estate, you should get help from an estate litigation attorney in Surprise as early as possible. You should not distribute funds or attempt to use estate funds for any purposes until you have spoken with a probate attorney first.
The best way to resolve a dispute will be through carefully handled negotiations. Often, our skilled attorneys at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, can diffuse differences and help people to reach common ground. However, we will be prepared to protect your rights and interests in court if necessary.
If you are experiencing any issues with the resolution of your deceased loved one’s final affairs, our skilled Surprise probate law firm can assist you. We can help restore order to what can often be a complex and confusing process. We focus on the needs of our clients. We also cut through the legal jargon and help our clients to understand the issues involved in the process.
To learn more, contact us and schedule a consultation through our Surprise office. We will thoroughly explain your options and help you to understand what to expect during the informal, formal or supervised probate process.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.
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