Who Does a Probate Attorney Represent?


Probate is a legal process that occurs after a person dies. The deceased individual’s will or estate plan is validated by the court and assets like bank accounts, financial investments, and real estate are distributed accordingly. Generally, this process involves executing instructions outlined in the deceased person’s will or estate plan.

Probate attorneys are often hired by family members after a loved one has passed to help protect assets and counsel as to the best way to handle the transfer of assets.

Types of People that a Probate Attorney May Represent

Probate can be a long, tedious, and costly process. If left to navigate probate on your own, you could feel overwhelmed, especially after losing a loved one. Hiring a probate attorney can help lessen this burden, allowing you ample time to grieve as your legal professional takes care of the time-consuming tasks involved in probate.

There are several types of people that a probate attorney may represent, including:

1. Overwhelmed Family Members

It’s common for families of recently passed loved ones to contact a probate attorney for help and guidance. A probate attorney can assist the executor of the will, in addition to the beneficiaries of the will, throughout the probate process. The attorney will guide the family through the probate proceedings and ensure that the executor administers the deceased’s will without bias per Arizona law. This ensures that all beneficiaries receive their fair share of the estate.

The probate process generally includes the following steps:

  • Review of the deceased’s will or estate plan to identify assets.
  • Appraisal of assets and property.
  • Collection of proceeds from insurance policies.
  • Payment of the deceased’s debts and/or bills.
  • Settlement of any inheritance or estate taxes.
  • Management of the estate checkbook.
  • Transfer of property or assets to the appropriate beneficiaries.

2. A Person Who Contests a Will

While it may seem like a will is a simple way to dictate what a deceased person would have wanted in terms of asset distribution, this is not always the case. A person could contest the will of a loved one, claiming that it is invalid. While anyone has the right to contest a will, this is most commonly done by the deceased’s children or spouse.

There are several reasons why a person may contest a will, including:

  • If they believe that the will was written under duress, under the threat of coercion, or the undue influence of another person.
  • If the decedent was mentally incompetent at the time the will was written.
  • When the will is legally invalid (e.g., the will was not signed with the proper formalities or critical information was not included).

3. A Person Unsatisfied with How the Estate is Managed

In most wills, a personal representative is named, such as a spouse or child. This person is responsible for managing the process of dissolving the deceased person’s affairs and helping in the distribution of assets in accordance with state and federal laws.

The personal representative of a will is responsible for the following:

  • Informing relevant parties that the estate is entering probate court.
  • Paying off any unresolved taxes and/or creditors.
  • Securing appraisals and selling/distributing assets like jewelry and real estate.
  • Submitting all required documentation and pleadings to probate court.

Importance of Hiring a Probate Attorney to Represent You

When a loved one passes away, it can be difficult to deal with the profound sense of loss. Hiring a probate attorney allows grieving family members to take a step back from their probate duties and heal.

Probate attorneys are dedicated specialists that understand the complex rules and regulations surrounding probate law. They know probate court rules, procedures, forms, and court officials which can prove extremely useful during probate proceedings.

The probate process can take as long as 24 months, causing frustration among surviving family members waiting for their inheritance. However, when the process is completed with help from an experienced probate attorney, most probate proceedings can be accomplished in under a year. Probate attorneys know what to do to avoid costly mistakes and speed up the probate process.

Hiring a probate attorney can also help avoid family conflicts. Unfortunately, the probate process can result in tensions between family members due to miscommunication and other issues. By hiring a probate attorney, you can rest assured that no elements of the process are overlooked or misconstrued. A probate attorney can also deal with legal claims made against the estate, such as a family member who was not named in the will but believes they should have been.

You can trust your probate attorney to handle more difficult aspects of the probate process, such as debts that your deceased loved one may have left behind. Outstanding debts, such as outstanding loans, funeral costs, and taxes, must be paid from the estate which can be a time-consuming process. A probate attorney can help ensure that you don’t overpay and that all creditors are promptly notified of the death.

There are also many other aspects that a probate attorney can assist with, such as meeting important deadlines, helping family members save money by administering the estate properly and avoiding the rejection of the estate. If a mistake is made during the probate process, it could set the family members back several weeks or even months.

Contact an Experienced Probate Attorney at JacksonWhite

If you are responsible for managing the estate of another person, you know the amount of time and dedication this responsibility requires. Hiring a knowledgeable Arizona probate attorney can help streamline the process, resulting in minimal disputes, freedom from liability, and a faster resolution of the probate proceedings. To learn more about how our law firm can assist your family with legal services or to schedule a consultation with an Arizona probate attorney, contact JacksonWhite at (480) 467-4365.

Contact Probate Attorney Ryan Hodges

Call (480)467-4365 or fill out our contact form to schedule your consultation and discuss your best legal options.