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Five Key Steps for Administering an AZ Probate

Five Key Steps for Administering an AZ Probate

       After you have been appointed as the personal representative for a loved one who has passed away, what are the next steps in administering an Arizona estate?  This blog discusses five key steps for administering an Arizona probate.

The Personal Representative’s Administrative Duties

      The following is a list of the tasks that the personal representative needs to complete in administering an Arizona probate:

       1. Notice to Heirs and Devisees.

       Once the personal representative has been appointed, he or she must send notice of the probate case to the heirs and devisees.  The notice includes the name and address of the personal representative, indicates that the notice is being sent to persons who have or may have an interest in the estate, discloses whether a bond has been filed, and describes the court where papers relating to the estate are on file.  Notice of the appointment of a personal representative and notice of the probate of a Will must be mailed within 30 days of the probate of the Will.  In an informal probate case, an heir has four months from the receipt of such notice to file an objection and commence a formal proceeding.

       2. Notice to Creditors.

     Upon appointment, the personal representative should give notice to all creditors of his or her appointment.  The notice to creditors announces the appointment of the personal representative, gives his or her address, and notifies the creditors that, unless they present their claims within four months from the date of first publication, their claims will be forever barred. The creditor’s claim period expires four months from date of first publication.  In addition to publication of notice, personal notice must be given to known or ascertainable creditors.

        3. Tax Returns and Notices to Taxing Authorities.

      The decedent’s final individual income tax return is due on April 15th of the year following death. Prior years’ tax returns may also be due. Gift tax returns for any significant gifts made in the year of death are due at the same time as income tax returns. If an estate tax return is required, unless an extension is obtained, it is due nine months after the decedent’s date of death.

The following may also need to be filed with the Internal Revenue Service:

  • Form SS-4 (Application for Employer Identification Number).
  • Form 56 (Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship).

The following may also need to be filed with the Arizona Department of Revenue:

  • Form 210 ADFC (Assumption of Duties in a Fiduciary Capacity).

      4.  Inventory and Appraisement.

     The personal representative must prepare an Inventory and Appraisement of the decedent’s property. The Inventory sets forth the fair market value of each item as of the date of death and the type and amount of any encumbrance on the property. The personal representative is responsible for valuing all the probate assets for purposes of preparing the Inventory. An appraiser may be needed to appraise any property if the value cannot be readily ascertained. The Inventory must also disclose whether each item of property is community property or separate property. The Inventory is due 90 days after appointment. The personal representative may either file the Inventory with the court and send a copy to interested persons who request it, or the personal representative may mail the Inventory to all of the heirs, devisees, and to any interested person who requests it.

      5.  Administer All of the Assets in the Estate.

     Next, the personal representative will need to administer each of the individual assets in the estate.  For some assets, this means selling the assets and depositing the net proceeds into the estate checking account.  For other assets, such as tangible personal property assets, or certain specific bequest gifts, this means distributing the assets directly to certain beneficiaries.  Finally, for other assets, like investment assets, it means keeping the asset invested and merely transferring the title to the asset into the estate’s name until it is time to liquidate or distribute them directly to the beneficiaries.

    Once these steps are completed and the 4-month creditor’s claim period has run, the next step is to pay the approved bills, do a final accounting, send out a proposal for distribution to the beneficiaries, and, finally, make the appropriate distributions.  I will cover these final steps in a separate blog dealing with how to close an Arizona probate case.

Seek the Help of an Experienced Probate Attorney

     As you can see, there are several things that the personal representative needs to do to administer an Arizona probate case. That is why I always recommend seeking the help of an experienced Arizona probate attorney in completing these tasks.

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John EvenOur firm has helped hundreds of families just like yours handle a wide variety of estate planning, business planning, probate, trust, and elder law issues. When families or business owners are not getting along, we can also handle any disputes and litigation related to their businesses, wills, trusts, guardianships, or conservatorships. Please give me a call, so that I can help you work through these difficult issues with confidence.

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