Most commonly, probate is a legal process by which the estate or assets of someone who has passed away are distributed amongst their heirs and beneficiaries. Usually, the process of distributing assets is controlled by the last will and testament that the deceased had filled out, but when there is a dispute over the legality of the will or who gets what, the matter is sent to probate court.
Usually, probate courts are used to distribute assets of an estate that did not automatically transfer to the beneficiaries. However, even having a last will and testament.
Even though having a valid will and testament is both convenient and can speed up the process of distributing assets, beneficiaries can contest the will, and if they do so, the matter is sent to a probate court where a judge will listen to the claims of the beneficiaries and distribute the assets accordingly.
What is Involved in Maricopa County’s Probate Process?
The probate process is as follows:
1. A family member, friend, or attorney is appointed as the will, will’s administrator, and will then be referred as the executor.
2. Once an executor is named, the will must be validated by a probate court. This is accomplished by checking the dates, signatures as well as legitimacy of the notaries.
3. The deceased’s assets will then be itemized and inventoried to ensure that all of their belongings/assets are accounted for and nothing is taken by those who are not supposed to receive them.
4. Properties and assets will be appraised for tax and monetary determination.
5. If there are any debts or taxes held by the deceased at the time of their death, they will be paid off by selling the deceased’s assets or property.
6. Once all debts/taxes have been paid off, the remaining assets will be distributed according to the will(if there is one) or according to Arizona law.
Maricopa County Probate Court
Where to Find Probate Documents
All of the forms that you need to start a probate case or that you will need to file throughout the duration of the case can be found on the Maricopa County Law Library Resource Center’s website. If you do not have access to a computer or printer, the documents are also available at one of Maricopa County’s Law Library Resource Center’s physical locations.
Where Do You Go to File Your Paperwork?
You may file your probate paperwork in person at any of the 4 Superior Court locations. However, the court building you turn in the paperwork does not determine where your case will be assigned. Your case’s court assignment is determined by the zip code of either the filing party or the filing party’s attorney.
Is there a Fee For Filing Probate Paperwork?
There is a fee for filing any paperwork in most cases, and the complete schedule of fees is available through the Clerk of Court’s website. If you believe that you qualify for low-income assistance, a waiver may be granted to cover the fees.
When Will Your Hearing Be?
After your Petition has been filed, you can obtain a hearing by completing one of the following options:
- Visit any of the superior court locations, and speak with the probate calendaring clerk to schedule a hearing. Be sure to bring at least three copies of your petition and any other supplemental paperwork when doing.
- Call 602-506-3668, and select the option to schedule a hearing.
Once you have completed one of the above options, it usually takes 2-8 weeks to have a hearing scheduled. If you have filed for an emergency appointment, there is a possibility that your petition may be heard sooner, but that decision is made on a case-by-case basis.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Probate Matter?
When an estate is sent to the probate court, you are not required to work with an attorney. However, it is strongly recommended that you do hire an experienced probate attorney to assist you. An experienced probate attorney can help you as they ensure that the deceased’s last wishes are honored and that you receive everything you are legally entitled to. Probate attorneys are also beneficial if you believe the deceased’s will was tampered with in any way.
If you need help with probate, Attorney Ryan Hodges at JacksonWhite Law is the veteran probate lawyer you can trust.