Personal Representative of Estate in Arizona
When you are preparing your estate, you need to familiarize yourself with Arizona estate planning laws. Choosing an executor, also called a personal representative, is an important part of getting your estate in order. The executor is either an entity or individual appointed by the Court to administer the assets and estate of a decedent. During the estate planning process, an individual can choose an executor, so the court will not have to choose one but will just appoint the individual you specify. Your executor has the responsibility of ensuring your affairs are properly handled after your death in accordance with your Last Will and Testament. If you die without a Will, your affairs and assets will be handled in accordance to Arizona state laws.
What are the Duties of an Executor?
There are several duties or responsibilities of an executor or personal representative in Arizona. Your executor will have these essential duties:
- Gather all the decedent’s assets
- Pay creditors and all outstanding bills
- Distribute the decedent’s assets to the proper parties in accordance with the Will
While performing these three tasks might not seem very complicated, the executor must address several issues after having been appointed by the Court. Depending on the assets of the decedent, the role of an executor can either be complicated or simple and easy. As an example, if an individual owns real estate in several states, has a business, or has complex assets, the role can be very challenging and complex.
Who Can Serve as My Executor?
Who can serve as your executor is dependent on a few things. First, it depends on whether you have a Will at the time of your death. If you die without a Will, you have died intestate. When someone dies intestate, Arizona law controls who has the right to serve as your executor. The people who are considered to have a right to serve as executor based on most intestate statutes would be first the surviving spouse of the decedent and second, the other individuals who will inherit the decedent’s property under Arizona intestate statutes.
What About Probate?
First, it will be determined if probate is needed to resolve your estate. This is determined by looking at the value of your estate. In Arizona, if all the decedent’s personal property combined, including bank accounts, jewelry, and vehicles, is valued at $75,000 or less, and real property net equity totals less than $100,000, the probate process can be avoided, and the estate can be settled quickly and inexpensively using a simple affidavit. But, if the values of the estate totals more than those figures, probate will be necessary to handle the estate process.
Preparing a Last Will and Testament
Regardless of the size or value of your estate, you should prepare a Last Will and Testament. This will make the Arizona estate process flow much more smoothly. Through the Will, you can determine who you want to receive your property and your assets will be divided and distributed as you indicate. You don’t have to worry about the state statutes determining who receives what when you have a Will. Also, if you die without a Will, more of your assets will be spent on trying to settle your estate. There will be additional court costs and fees while the probate court assigns an executor and determines how to divide your assets and property. Taking the time to prepare a Last Will and Testament can save your family time and trouble because you are stating how you want your property divided. Schedule a consultation with an Arizona estate attorney to discuss your estate planning needs.