You will frequently hear that probate is expensive and will take a long time. Of course, the meaning of expensive and time-consuming is relative. Let’s start with the cost side first.
Will the Attorney Take a Percentage of the Estate in AZ?
The short answer is no. Probate attorneys in Arizona are required to charge a “reasonable” fee for services, which usually means an hourly rate competitive with other probate attorneys in the area. Arizona does not set a schedule of what those fees are like other states. In those states that still have statutory fee schedules, the costs of probate will almost always be several times higher than in Arizona. Probate attorney also do not typical work on contingency fee basis. A.R.S. § 14-11004.
It is very difficult to predict the cost of legal representation without having information about the individual probate proceeding. On the other hand, after a consultation with a probate attorney, the attorney may be able to give you a better estimate of the overall fee and may even be able to quote you flat fee for the services.
In addition to legal fees, there will be filing fees, copy costs and recording fees usually totaling about $300. The personal representative may also charge a fee; but if he or she is also an heir of the estate, it is not uncommon for the personal representative to waive any fee. Other than the court fees, the state does not usually get any more of the estate.
If you were the beneficiary of certain government assistance, such as Medicaid/ALTCS, then your estate may have a TEFRA lien against it.
You should be fully aware that even though you can qualify for ALTCS Medicaid as a homeowner, your home might become subject to what is called a TEFRA lien. Arizona Medicaid can place a TEFRA lien on your home in the event that you become a permanent resident of a long-term medical facility, and the lien remains in place unless you are discharged from the facility to return home.
While Arizona Medicaid will not enforce the lien if you have any intention of returning home, it can enforce the lien if you sell the home or if you pass away. As such, if you hope to keep the home in your family for generations to come, you should speak with an Arizona Probate attorney about your options.
How Long Does Probate Last in Arizona?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions regarding probate law. The minimum time required for a normal probate is four months. This is to allow any interested party to get involved in the matter and for creditors to file any last claims against the deceased. There are a few exceptions for shortening this time period, but they are unusual.
So four months is the minimum, but a probate can go on as long as necessary to resolve all the legal issues affecting the estate. This may include additional time for selling estate assets like real property, settling disputed creditor claims and other lawsuits, or merely waiting until next year to file the last income tax returns when the IRS forms become available.
I typically tell family members that, barring any complications, they should expect the probate process to take six months from start to finish. The court becomes concerned and starts asking questions if the estate is open for more than two years.
At JacksonWhite we start with a base fee of $2800. The additional services have the noted costs.
Scope of Services. The Firm Will Provide the Following Probate Services [for $2800]:
- Prepare and file the application for informal appointment of personal representative and probate of the will, if available, and the other associated documents;
- Prepare and send all notices of your appointment and other notices to creditors;
- Assist you in preparing an inventory of probate and non-probate assets;
- Assist you in discovering estate liabilities and advise you on handling liabilities;
- Advise you as to proper distribution of the estate assets;
- Prepare and file the documents to distribute the estate assets and close the estate; and
- Counsel and advise on any related questions or matters arising out of the administration of the estate.
The Firm May Provide the Following Additional Probate Services at the Fee Noted:
- Prepare and file the petition for formal appointment of personal representative and probate of the will, if available, and represent you in the hearing ($500);
- Amend the application for appointment of personal representative for a different personal representative ($250);
- Assist you in the preparation of an accounting of the estate, if necessary ($500);
- Prepare the documents to distribute the trust assets and terminate the trust ($250);
- Prepare the annual status report and continued representation after the first two years ($500 per year); and
- Advise you as to proper distribution of the estate assets and prepare and file the documents to distribute the estate assets and close estate when the estate is insolvent (hourly at $250 per hour).
Do You Need Help with Probate Matters?
As you can see, AZ probate law is complex. It requires a number of steps and without the right approach, it’s easy to get lost in the details.
At JacksonWhite, we can make probate a clear, easy-to-understand process. If you’d like help with probate matters, call the talented team at JacksonWhite Law today.
We can help explain your legal options and direct you to the probate solution that works for you and your loved ones.