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Navigate the Settlement of Estate of Deceased Person in Chandler: Your Step-by-Step Guide

Settlement of Estate of Deceased Person in Chandler

Talk to an experienced Wills and Trust attorney to see if you will need probate or not to settle the estate of a deceased loved one.

An experienced estate planning lawyer will help you understand all the steps to get an estate settled. They will guide you through the process and make sure you as an executor comply with Arizona probate laws.

Are you facing the challenge of the settlement of estate of deceased person in Chandler, Arizona?

This guide demystifies the probate process, from initiating probate proceedings to navigating the legal obligations and distributing assets. We’ll help you understand whether probate is required, outline your responsibilities as an executor, and explore when enlisting the aid of a probate attorney is prudent. Take the first steps in estate administration with this informative guide.

Key Takeaways

  • Probate in Chandler is a legal process necessary for estate administration if the decedent didn’t have a probate avoidance instrument or qualifies as a small estate, involving court filings, notifying creditors, and potentially a hearing.
  • The executor plays a critical role, including inventorying and valuing property, settling bills, fulfilling obligations, distributing assets, and managing tax filings, with strict adherence to probate laws required throughout the process.
  • An attorney provides essential guidance through complex procedures, helps in tax obligations, and facilitates smoother estate administration, potentially saving time and reducing conflict among beneficiaries.

Understanding the Probate Process in Chandler

Probate is a legal procedure integral to estate administration. This process authenticates a deceased person’s will and appoints an executor or personal representative to manage the estate. However, probate is not always required.

In Chandler, probate is necessary if a person dies without a will, or with a will but without a probate avoidance instrument, unless the estate qualifies as a small estate. Comprehending these nuances of the probate process is pivotal for efficient estate administration.

Chandler recognizes both supervised and informal probate. Supervised probate requires court involvement, while informal probate, also known as informal proceedings, is quicker and does not require appearances before a judge.

Estates in Chandler valued under certain thresholds may avoid formal probate, and administrators can expect a legal process involving court filings, notifications, and a hearing for authority to distribute the estate. The following sections will explore the probate process in Chandler in greater depth, the role of an executor or personal representative, and the critical steps in initiating probate proceedings.

Initiating Probate Proceedings

Initiation probate in Chandler begins with filing a ‘Petition to Administer the Decedent’s Estate’ at the Maricopa County Superior Court. This petition must include the names and addresses of the decedent’s heirs, along with a comprehensive list of liabilities and assets. The role of an experienced attorney becomes paramount at this stage, as they are the ones who file essential documents for appointing a Personal Representative, such as nominating the executor.

One significant factor to consider here is the timeline. Executors in Arizona have up to two years from the decedent’s date of death to file for probate, with potential extensions under certain situations. This period may seem long, but considering the complexities involved in the process, it’s advised that one doesn’t procrastinate and instead takes proactive steps guided by an experienced attorney.

The Role of the Executor or Personal Representative

The executor, or personal representative, plays a crucial role in administering the deceased person’s entire estate. This role comes with a multitude of responsibilities that form the backbone of the probate process. One of the first duties of the executor is to inventory and value the decedent’s property. This task involves meticulous attention to detail and precision, as any misstep can lead to complications later in the process.

Apart from managing assets, the executor is also responsible for:

  • Settling bills and addressing creditor claims
  • Dealing with various stakeholders and ensuring that all obligations are fulfilled timely and correctly
  • Distributing assets
  • Ensuring the correct filing and payment of taxes

The role of the executor is multifaceted and requires a robust understanding of probate.

Estate Administration Essentials

Estate Administration Essentials in Chandler

Administering an estate is a complex task, demanding thorough knowledge of probate laws and procedures. Probate proceedings in Chandler may not be required if a deceased person has a trust or a beneficiary deed that avoids probate, especially for estates valued under $75,000 for personal property or $100,000 for real property. Nevertheless, regardless of the estate’s size, having an experienced estate planning lawyer is essential for gaining timely control of assets, understanding tax implications, and preventing penalties during estate administration.

Experienced probate attorneys bring to the table specialized knowledge for the accurate and legal administration of a deceased person’s property. They navigate the complexities of the probate workflow, ensuring that every step is carried out in compliance with Arizona probate law. Furthermore, engaging in preemptive estate planning with the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer can aid in reducing or even avoiding probate costs, besides assisting with elder law issues.

Estate administration encompasses two main aspects - evaluation of estate assets and settlement of debts and obligations. Each requires a different set of skills and knowledge, and the following subsections will delve deeper into these crucial aspects of estate administration.

Assessing and Appraising Estate Assets

In initiating the process of estate administration, a personal representative must first gather a comprehensive list of the deceased’s properties. This task includes locating assets such as bank and retirement accounts, property titles, and tangible items like cash reserves, equities, bonds, or valuable jewelry.

Conducting an official appraisal to determine the true market value of these located assets is critical for both calculating any relevant taxes and establishing how the estate will be allocated amongst beneficiaries.

It is incumbent upon the personal representative to oversee all financial aspects related to the estate. The responsibilities include:

  • Establishing a new bank account under the name of the estate for conducting monetary transactions
  • Settling all unpaid debts left by the decedent
  • Compiling and furnishing a thorough inventory along with asset appraisals

All this information regarding inventories and valuations needs to be shared not only with those who stand to inherit from their late benefactor, but also extended to creditors or any other parties showing legitimate interest in matters concerning distribution from said individual’s earthly holdings.

Settling Debts and Obligations

Addressing the decedent’s debts and obligations is another notable responsibility of the personal representative. The executor is mandated to notify creditors by publishing a notice in a local newspaper and mailing it to known creditors, permitting them to file claims against the estate during a specified time frame. Creditors have four months from the first publication of the notice, or sixty days from the mailing of the notice (whichever is later), to present their claims against the estate.

Debts of the estate are settled in accordance with Arizona law, with preference given to administration costs and expenses, followed by other types of indebtedness such as:

  • funeral expenses
  • medical bills
  • loans
  • taxes

This process requires a thorough understanding of the law and careful management of the estate’s assets, highlighting the importance of having an experienced wills and trust attorney during the process.

Legal Requirements and Documentation

The probate process highly values transparency and accessibility. Probate proceedings in Chandler are public record, allowing for the transparency and accessibility of estate settlement documentation and processes. The public nature of probate proceedings guarantees the ethical execution of the process in compliance with the law. It also provides an opportunity for any interested parties to review the proceedings and raise objections if necessary.

One essential part of the probate process that is subject to public record is the validation of the last will and testament. This legal document serves as the decedent’s final word on how they wish their assets to be distributed. The following subsection will delve deeper into the legal requirements for a valid will in Arizona.

Another aspect that plays a crucial role in the probate process is the filing of taxes and accounting for the estate. This will also be discussed in detail in the subsequent subsection.

Validating the Last Will and Testament

In Arizona, an individual must meet the following requirements to create a valid will:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be of sound mind
  • The will must be in writing, which can include electronic wills executed remotely
  • The will must be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two witnesses who are at least 18 years old and not beneficiaries or related to any beneficiaries

These requirements are designed to ensure that the will is a true reflection of the decedent’s wishes and not a result of coercion or manipulation.

While notarization is not required for a will in Northern Arizona, a self-proving affidavit can be notarized and included with a will to allow the probate court to accept it without needing to contact the witnesses. Holographic wills, written entirely in the decedent’s handwriting, are also legally recognized in Arizona. However, they may pose challenges during validation due to their informal nature, and caution is advised when considering this option.

Filing Taxes and Accounting for the Estate

Tax obligations are an integral part of the probate process. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Arizona does not have estate or inheritance tax.
  • The estate may still be subject to federal estate taxes if its value exceeds the federal exemption amount.
  • Executors are required to file final state and federal income tax returns for the decedent in Arizona.
  • Executors must also manage any income tax due on retirement accounts and income-earning assets.

Beneficiaries, too, have certain tax obligations. They are required to pay income taxes on distributions from retirement accounts, income-earning assets, and annuities inherited, based on the assets’ value appreciation during the decedent’s lifetime. A written final accounting, detailing all estate assets and payments, is prepared by the personal representative and provided to all distributees. This document allows beneficiaries to raise questions or objections, ensuring that the process remains transparent and accountable.

Distribution of Assets and Closing the Estate

Distribution of Assets and Closing the Estate in Chandler, Arizona

Once all debts and taxes are settled, the probate process proceeds to the distribution of assets. If a decedent in Chandler, Arizona dies without a will, the state’s intestate succession laws determine the distribution of the estate. However, if a will is present, the assets are distributed according to the decedent’s wishes as outlined in the will. Before this distribution can be carried out, a proposal for distribution is usually submitted to the Maricopa Court.

More detailed information about the guidelines for asset distribution and the steps to complete the probate proceedings will be provided in the following subsections.

Guidelines for Asset Distribution

In Chandler, Arizona, intestate succession laws are applied for distributing assets when an individual dies without a will. These laws affect only assets that are not already designated for transfer by other means, such as those in a trust or joint tenancy beneficiary deed. The probate court follows Arizona’s intestate succession laws to determine heirship, giving priority to the following individuals, in the absence of a will:

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.)
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Grandparents
  6. Aunts and uncles
  7. Cousins

After settling all debts and taxes, the executor is responsible for distributing the remaining property, retirement accounts, and other assets. The remaining assets are distributed according to the decedent’s will, or in accordance with state intestacy laws if no will exists, following the resolution of any disputes. A proposal for asset distribution is created and must be sent to distributees, who have 30 days to raise objections or else be barred from doing so later.

To assign beneficiaries without a will, the executor uses Arizona state laws where the surviving spouse is first priority, followed by children, siblings, and other relatives in descending order of relation. If the person that passed away had children from a previous marriage they will be entitled to half. It is specially important to work with an attorney if you have a blended family.

Completing the Probate Proceedings

Just like any process, closure is an essential part of probate. Before closing the probate, the personal representative must ensure all bills are paid, assets are sold or distributed, the decedent’s final tax return is filed, and all other affairs are resolved. In Arizona (Southern Arizona specially), probate can be closed informally without a hearing by submitting a Closing Statement, or through formal proceedings with a court hearing, based on the situation’s complexity and whether there are objections to the accounting or distributions.

The submission of a closing statement must verify that the required 4-month period for creditors to file claims has passed and that all claims and distributions are accounted for, which may involve a formal court appearance. Upon formally closing probate, all claims against the personal representative are barred after the court’s final order.

However, when closed informally, there is a 6-month period during which the personal representative’s actions can be challenged, except in cases of fraud, misrepresentation, or inadequate disclosure.

Hiring a Probate Attorney in Chandler

Hiring a Probate Attorney in Chandler

The task of navigating the probate process can be complex and intimidating. An experienced probate attorney in Chandler can help by:

  • Ensuring proper documentation to prevent court rejections
  • Identifying all assets correctly, some of which may not be obvious or easily accessible
  • Helping to avoid liability for the administrator and prevent litigation, thereby protecting the manager of the estate from potential financial consequences of mistakes
  • Providing unbiased advice, which is crucial for making informed decisions and for asset evaluation
  • Reducing stress and conflict among beneficiaries

Hiring a probate lawyer can make the probate process smoother and less overwhelming.

The benefits of choosing an experienced estate planning attorney and how the compensation and costs of hiring a probate attorney can affect your decision will be discussed in the following subsections.

Why Choose an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

The probate process in Chandler may last anywhere from six months to several years. Enlisting the services of an experienced attorney can speed up the process, particularly in cases involving large assets or heir disputes. Furthermore, an experienced estate planning lawyer, also known as a wills and trust lawyer, can help avoid probate altogether. This can not only save time, but also reduce the stress and emotional burden associated with the probate process.

The choice of an experienced estate planning attorney can significantly impact the outcome of the probate process. They bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can navigate the complexities of the probate process, ensuring that every step is carried out in compliance with Arizona probate law.

Compensation and Costs

Understanding the compensation and costs associated with hiring a probate attorney is crucial to make an informed decision. Most probate attorneys in Arizona charge hourly rates, but some may offer flat fees which could be advantageous for cases with uncertain durations. Some law firms like Citadel Law Firm offer a mix of flat fees and hourly fees, aiming to minimize initial costs and provide flexible payment options over the probate process.

The average legal fees for probate in Arizona range from $5,000 to approximately $10,000, with potential for higher fees in more complex cases. But hiring a probate lawyer is an investment rather than an expense. They can help to save money on other aspects of the probate process, such as asset management and tax understanding.

An experienced probate attorney’s compensation is justified by their ability to prevent costly errors, reduce the potential for litigation, and protect the estate’s value.


Navigating the probate process can be a challenging task, but with the right guidance, it becomes manageable. This guide has taken you through each step of the probate process in Chandler, AZ, from understanding the process, initiating proceedings, administering the estate, to finally closing the estate. Remember, while the probate process may seem daunting, having an experienced probate attorney by your side can make all the difference. They can help streamline the process, ensure legal compliance, and protect the decedent’s estate, providing peace of mind during a difficult time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does an executor have to settle an estate in Arizona?

In Arizona, while there is no stringent timeline imposed on executors to finalize an estate, it is recommended that they initiate the settlement procedure approximately 60 days following the decedent’s death and aim to conclude it within a sensible period.

What is the process of settling the estate of a person called?

Probate is the procedure by which a deceased individual’s estate is settled, encompassing the distribution of their property, resolution of any outstanding debts and taxes, as well as payment for funeral costs.

How long do most estates take to settle?

Settlement most estates can range in duration from six months to three years, largely influenced by the complexity of the estate and the assets involved.

What is the statute of limitations on an estate in Arizona?

It’s crucial to initiate a probate case for an estate within two years following the decedent’s death, as per Arizona law, which sets this duration as the statute of limitations.

What is the probate process in Chandler, AZ?

In Chandler, AZ, the probate proceedings are initiated to verify a deceased individual’s will and select an executor who is responsible for overseeing the estate. This process includes starting probate actions, handling estate affairs, and ultimately settling it.

Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney today in Chandler, AZ

Citadel Law Firm will be pleased to help you with your estate planning in Chandler, AZ. Call (480)565-8020 or click here to schedule your free estate planning consultation today.