Your loved one has passed on, and it can be a trying time for your family. You want to carry out their final wishes with care and expediency, but you must take steps to ensure you do it in accordance with Arizona state law.
Probate is a common part of the process after someone passes away. There are more than 20,000 active or pending probate cases in Maricopa County at any given time. While no two probate hearings are the same, they can follow the same basic outline to completion.
Going through probate court
The process will begin and end with the wishes of the deceased, but completing the circle takes a few necessary steps:
- Validating the will: The first step is to make sure the will is legal. The state requires that your loved one was over the age of 18 when they wrote the will, of sound mind and not under outside influence. The document also requires a signature from the deceased and two witnesses.
- Appointing a lead: Someone will need to oversee carrying out the wishes of the deceased as their representative. Without an appointment, you can petition the court for the honor, or the judge can pick a third-party administrator.
- Gathering assets: At this point, you’ll need to account for assets. Know what the estate holds by determining the fair market value of property, counting money and gathering investment records.
- Settling liabilities: Legal expenses, funeral expenses, medical expenses, debts and taxes are among the claims that the estate needs to clear. Anything outstanding will likely be put into one of these categories and paid in order.
- Distributing assets: Once you count the assets and pay the bills, you can start issuing the remainder of the estate. You will divide as per the wishes laid out in the will, or if no legal will exists, it falls to the laws of the state of Arizona.
Understanding the steps involved in probate court can help make sure you can follow through with any legal obligations while concluding the will. Bring a complete and legal end to satisfying your loved one’s wishes.