Probate is the legal process of validating a will and settling the affairs of the estate.
If their estate plan was properly maintained the process may not be required or simplified process may qualify.
The probate process in Arizona has been simplified to what is commonly an "informal probate".
Even though the steps seem simplified the reality is matters can arise that take time to complete. Informal probates that are both common and moderate in character and cost can be completed within 8 months although contested matters and other delays could involve additional time to complete.
Although an heir has a right to contest a will they should evaluate with abundance of caution.
The majority of wills are found to be valid. In rare cases an heir may challenge the validity but the burden of proof must be there to overcome.
THE 5 MOST COMMON CONTESTED CLAIMS
Lack of Capacity.
Undue Influence by Another.
Another will post executed.
Provisions that are ambiguous.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Does probate occur any time a person dies?
No, in Arizona many estates have assets that easily be transferred by affidavit without the need to open a probate estate. And a trust can be established which holds title to property and assets and transfers directly to named beneficiaries upon the death of the decedent without the need to open an estate.
What are specific bequests or specific gifts in an estate?
These are the gifts of specific property which are specified in the will to be distributed to specific persons. Typically, a will provides to for specific items or property to go to certain persons with the balance of the estate to be gifted either equally or in percentage shares to a group of beneficiaries named in the will.
Does the estate have to file the last tax return for the decedent?
Yes, one of the duties of the personal representative is to file the last tax return of the decedent with the state and federal government. He is also responsible to file fiduciary tax returns reporting income of the estate while it is being administered.
Do I have to serve as personal representative?
No, simply because a person is nominated under the will does not mean he must serve. He can elect to resign and the alternate named under the will would serve. And any person claiming the right to serve could petition the court to be appointed.
What are some common assets that do not go through a probate?
Real property held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, investment and savings accounts with payment upon death or beneficiary designations, and IRA accounts, 401K accounts and pension accounts with beneficiary designations. And life insurance commonly passes free of probate directly to the named insurance beneficiaries.
What is residuary assets in an estate?
Any assets of the estate that remain after creditors are paid and specific gifts are distributed.
Can a beneficiary or interested person of the estate question how the estate is being administered?
Yes, if there are questions regarding how the personal representative his handling the estate a beneficiary or other interested person can object to the administration process by filing a petition which will call the objection to the attention of the probate judge to review?
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