A personal representative is one of the most important people associated with the administration of your estate. This is because this person must file official paperwork and handle a variety of different types of tasks associated with closing out your estate. It is important to think carefully about who you want to serve in the personal representative role and the critical impacts that this might have on the administration of your estate and ultimately your beneficiaries.
In Arizona a personal representative is the entity or the person appointed by the court to administer the assets of a person who has passed away. The person who has passed away is often referred to as the decedent. This means that all of the affairs of the decadent need to be tied up after death in accordance with the provisions inside the decedent’s last will and testament. In some cases, such as those in which a will does not exist, the estate must still be wrapped up in accordance with state law.
Understanding Personal Representative Duties
A personal representative has to handle a variety of different tasks associated with the administration of an estate. This includes the initial filing of the paperwork to be accepted by the court including the submission of any last will and testament. From this point forward, after the personal representative has been instilled in this role, it is their duty to inventory and collect the assets of the decedent. This is to get an overall picture of the size of the estate and the assets included within it. The next stage involves paying any outstanding creditors or bills that are associated with the deceased’s estate.
After this process has been completed, the personal representative then must distribute the decedent’s assets to anyone who is supposed to receive them under the will or through state law procedures if no will exists. On a face value these tasks might not seem overly complicated, however, there are many different issues that a personal representative must handle once he or she is appointed by the court. As an Arizona executor responsibilities lawyer can tell you, it is imperative that the personal representative approach each of these tasks with care and documentation ability to ensure that they have covered all aspects.
Who can Serve as an Executor?
Who has the right to serve as the personal representative in Arizona depends on whether or not the decedent left a will. Anyone nominated in a will to serve as personal representative has the right to serve. You do not have to accept this nomination if you were appointed in someone else’s will. In the event that the decedent passed away without a will, then the decedent in Arizona is referred to as having passed away intestate. State law under ARS14-3203 determines who has the right to serve as personal representative. This usually goes first to a surviving spouse and then to other persons who might inherit the decedent’s property under intestate statutes.
One of the most important responsibilities of an Arizona executor is to open probate. You will need to be formally appointed to the position by the court of the county in which the decedent resided at the time of death.
This requires the filing of an application for informal probate of will and appointment of personal representative. Formal probate may be required in the event that any creditors or heirs become adversarial or raise conflicts during the process of administering estate. Formal probate is also required in the event that any party alleges that there is a will contest or any other issues regarding validity of documents. There are significant differences between formal and informal probate.
For example, informal probate can be streamlined very quickly. In formal probate, however, a hearing has to be held by the court to verify that the will left by the decedent was in fact the last will and testament or to verify that the decedent passed away without a valid will in place. The gathering of assets and the distribution of any remaining assets after paying out debts and taxes is extremely important. Make sure that you consult directly with an Arizona executor responsibilities lawyer to understand this role.