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What is Probate?

Probate literally means to “Prove a Will”. Probate is a Court supervised process to validate the Will and appoint an Executor/Personal Representative.

At Dana Whiting Law, we like to think of Probate as obtaining “Power of Attorney for a deceased person”. A normal Power of Attorney terminates when a person dies. Assets are ultimately transferred to the named beneficiaries after creditors have been paid, taxes have been paid and all family disputes have been resolved.

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What is the Probate Process?

  1. The Will is filed with the Court along with an Application to have a Personal Representative appointed.
  2. The Court reviews the Will to determine its validity and if they approve and there are no family disputes over the appointment of the Personal Representative, the Will is admitted to Probate and the PR is appointed.
  3. The PR inventories and appraises all assets.
  4. The PR deals with all known creditors and publishes notice in a newspaper to any potential “unknown creditors”.(creditors are given a 4 month time to file claims against the Estate)
  5. The PR settles all IRS issues and files final Income Tax Returns.
  6. Assets are usually sold, but need not be.
  7. Beneficiaries are provided with an Accounting of all activities of the PR, and if they approve then they are asked to sign a Release of Liability to the PR to protect the PR from being sued.
  8. Money is held back to cover your compensation as the PR and for final tax filings.
  9. Assets or cash are ultimately distributed to the named beneficiaries.
  10. On average Probates in Arizona take 8 months to a year. Can take much longer if there are creditor disputes, family disputes, difficult assets to sell and IRS problems.

Not every estate requires Probate, if your loved one passed away with a current Trust please visit our Trust Administration page.

How Much Does a Probate Cost?

Arizona Probate Attorneys cannot charge a percentage of the Estate. Their fees must be their normal hourly rates. Generally, for simple uncontested probates the fees would be in the $5,000 to $6,500 range.

Are You Entitled to Compensation as the PR?

Absolutely! It is our general experience that you will be paid for your time as compensation for your services, an amount that is close to the amount that you pay us for our services. We are a team and we are happy to delegate any responsibilities and duties to you that you are capable of fulfilling without our services. You are paid before any of the creditors of the Estate.

Why Hire a Lawyer?

Any mistakes made by you as the PR creates liability for you. The lawyer’s main job is to protect you from making mistakes. Additionally, your lawyer will obtain a Waiver of Liability from each beneficiary before the Estate is closed.

A good Probate Lawyer must have knowledge of the Probate Process, Federal and State Income Taxes, how Probate interfaces with a Trust, or an IRA, Life Insurance or other assets that are passed to the beneficiary outside of the Probate Process.

What Assistance Do You Provide in Selling the Home?

Some of our lawyers are also licensed Real Estate agents. We can assist in the process of selling your home as well. Not only are you getting an experienced Real Estate Agent, but you are also getting an experienced Real Estate Lawyer.

Can Probate be Avoided?

The best way to avoid probate is to create a Revocable Trust. Once you or the other beneficiaries receive an “inheritance”, then you should contact us at Dana Whiting Law. This helps to protect inheritance and avoid the delays and expenses of a Probate by creating a Trust for you and your family. This will provide you with the peace of mind you deserve in knowing that your family will not have to go through the Probate process.

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DWL Experience

Matt Dana has done thousands of Probates in his 40+ years of experience. Dana Whiting Law does approximately 14 Probates every month. Dana Whiting Law’s biggest advantage is the number of lawyers and paralegals we have in our office. Many probate law firms are a “one man show”. It takes these firms much longer to assist you and answer your questions and fees tend to be higher because of this. At Dana Whiting Law, you can be assured that we have a well-equipped team to help you through the Probate process.

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