Michael J. Fuller, the principal attorney of the firm, is AV-rated, has over four decades of probate experience, and will provide you with the highest quality of legal representation. Mr. Fuller will keep you informed of all case developments and will email you a copy of all pleadings and court orders generated in the case. Mr. Fuller believes it is important to keep the client fully involved in developing case strategies to bring prompt resolution of your case. Mr. Fuller’s fees are fair and reasonable, and you will be provided monthly statements of all fees and costs incurred.
Probate is the court intervention process by which the title of all property in the name of the deceased spouse ultimately passes to the heirs of the decedent. Probate is usually commenced by the filing of an application for appointment of personal representative/probate of last will with the court in the county and state where the decedent resided at the time of his death.
Such application is commonly filed by the person who is nominated in the decedent’s last will to act as personal representative of the estate. Once the personal representative is appointed by the court, he has the legal capacity to take all actions on behalf of the estate to secure all property owned by the decedent, to pay all claims, debts and taxes owed by the decedent and to finally make a final distribution to the heirs of the estate according to the terms of the last will.
If your spouse did not establish an estate plan prior to his death, his estate will pass pursuant to the intestate laws of Arizona. The Arizona legislators essentially prescribe a distribution scheme based on the likely intentions of the deceased spouse. If the deceased spouse had no children or if all of the children are the product of the deceased and surviving spouse, all of the deceased spouse’s property will go to the surviving spouse. If the deceased spouse has children who are not the product of the surviving spouse, one half of the deceased spouse’s separate property and none of the deceased spouse’s community property will go to the surviving spouse. (A.R.S. Section 14-2102).
At the time of the appointment of a personal representative, the personal representative is required to publish a notice to creditors once a week for three weeks. The notice shall announce the appointment of the personal representative, it shall include the personal representative’s address, and it shall give the creditor four months from the date of first publication of the notice to present a claim. The personal representative is also required to send a similar notice to all known creditors of the estate. (A.R.S. Section 14-3801.A. and B.). The probate process will take a minimum of four months from the date the personal representative gives notice to creditors and can take longer, depending on the nature of the assets and other complexities of the estate.
Arizona law permits the transfer of property owned by the decedent to his heirs without the necessity of going through probate in some situations. For example, if the personal property of the decedent does not exceed the value of $75,000, 30 days after the death of the decedent, the successor entitled to such property can present an affidavit to the holder of such personal property as long as the affidavit complies with Arizona law (A.R.S. Section 14-3971.B). Similarly, six months after the death of the decedent, his successors of all of his real property may file an affidavit with the court, which complies with Arizona law if the value of all real property at the death of the decedent does not exceed $100,000. (A.R.S. Section 14-3971.E.) Finally, a beneficiary of an insurance policy, a pension or profit-sharing plan, an IRA, a trust, a beneficiary deed, or other non-testamentary instrument is entitled to the money or other benefits due pursuant to a designation signed by the decedent. (A.R.S. Section 14-6101).