At Mahoney Law Office, we understand through personal experience that dealing with a death in the family can be an overwhelming and emotional time. We are here to help clients navigate the intensive paperwork involved with an uncontested, informal Probate.
Probate is the legal process which establishes the validity of the Will and oversees the actions of the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative is responsible for wrapping your estate up and making the distributions according to the terms of your Will, if you have a Will, or according to the laws of intestacy if you died without having a Will. In essence, the Personal Representative is signing on behalf of the deceased to transfer the titles and deeds and other assets to the beneficiaries or heirs.
Probate is a time consuming process designed to enable the proper transfer of the decedent’s estate to the rightful beneficiaries. This process is also used to collect any taxes due on the transfer of the property. Outstanding debts can also be settled through Probate. A four month notice must be published in a local newspaper, at the end of which all creditors must have filed any claims that they have. The balance of the estate or property following settlement of these debts and taxes is then distributed to the beneficiaries. The nature of Probate means that if there is no estate or property to be distributed then there is no need to go through Probate.
Probate is necessary not only to facilitate distribution of property from the Last Will and Testament, but also to allow objections to the Will by other parties. Objections can arise for a variety of reasons, and investigations may also be required for such reasons which include: the possibility that the deceased was not of sound mind when the Will was made; the possibility that another Will was made at a later date; the possibility that the Will was forged or that the decedent’s decision was improperly influenced.
What happens if a person dies without a Will?
If a person dies without a Will ("intestate"), the Probate Court appoints a person to receive all claims against the estate, pay creditors and then distribute all remaining property in accordance with the laws of the state. The major difference between dying testate (with a Will) and dying intestate is that an intestate estate is distributed to beneficiaries or heirs in accordance with the distribution plan established by state law; a testate estate (after payment of debts, taxes and costs of administration) is distributed in accordance with the instructions provided by the decedent in his/her Last Will and Testament.
Dying without a Will can have very unintended results, especially for blended families where the deceased has children from a previous relationship. It means that one-half (1/2) of the estate will go to the children of the deceased, not to the surviving spouse. If this is not your wish, you should have a Will.
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2980 N. Litchfield Rd, Suite 120
Goodyear, AZ 85395
The information contained in this Website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as offering legal advice, or creating an attorney client relationship between the reader and the author. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this Website without seeking appropriate legal advice about your individual facts and circumstances from an attorney licensed in your state. Jennifer Mahoney is licensed to practice law only in Arizona.
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