Contrary to popular belief, probate court is not just for wealthy families who are fighting about who gets what. Instead, probate is the legal process by which the estate and assets of someone who has passed away are legally distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries. Usually, the probate process is controlled by a last will and testament that the deceased had filled out before their death. Still, the legality of the will needs to be checked to ensure it is valid and the assets are being distributed accordingly.
Even if the deceased’s will is found to be valid, probate is still required as it will be used to determine tax values, settle debts and then transfer ownership of assets. Typically, probate court involves loads of paperwork and court appearances. Even though it is not required to hire a lawyer to go through probate, it is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer to ensure the estate and assets are distributed correctly.
What Are the Steps Involved in Pima 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.
Pima County Probate Court
Where to Find Necessary Probate Documents
Due to current in-person limitations, all of the documents you will need to file for your probate case can be found online. It is essential that you use the correct documents and fill them out correctly with all of the required information. The court will not accept incomplete or inaccurate documents, and you will be forced to resubmit them, which means your probate matter will take longer to conclude.
Where Do You Go to File Your Paperwork?
To file your probate paperwork in Pima County, you will need to go to the Superior Court. Pima County’s Superior Court is located here. All probate documents can be submitted on the first floor of the courthouse with the probate clerk.
When Will Your Hearing Be Held?
Once you have submitted the necessary documents and submitted a Petition with the court, you will be granted a hearing. After the court has reviewed your petition, they will contact you with the date of your hearing.
It can take several weeks to have a hearing scheduled, and you must show up at the right time on the day of your hearing. 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?
Even though it may not be necessary to hire a lawyer to help you with a probate matter, Pima County’s Superior Court offers this advice “If you are not sure about what to do, contact an attorney. There are serious consequences for people representing themselves and doing so improperly.”
An experienced probate attorney can help you with your matter as they ensure that the deceased’s last wishes are honored and that you receive everything you are entitled to. One of the ways an experienced lawyer can ensure you receive what you are entitled to is by contesting the validity of the will. Wills can be updated before someone passes away, and due to this, there may be multiple versions of the will, but only the most current version is valid.
If you need help with probate matter, Attorney Ryan Hodges of JacksonWhite Law is ready to assist you!
Call Probate Attorney Ryan Hodges at (480)467-4365 to discuss your case today.