Role as Executor of Estate in Arizona

executor of estate in arizonaBeing nominated as someone’s executor in a Will is an honor, that means that individual held you in the highest regards. However, you need to carefully consider the position before deciding whether to serve in that capacity. It is a big responsibility and can be very time consuming. If there is an error in handling the distribution of the estate, you could be held responsible by the creditors and heirs of the decedent for any problems that arise from your errors and omissions. Taking on this role should be taken seriously, and before agreeing to being executor, you need to look at the overall responsibilities and time involved before committing to the role.

Sometimes There Could be Challenges

Most estates are not that challenging with the Will being straight forward and the property being easily distributed. However, there are those situations that are sometimes more challenging than others. If the decedent has complex property ownership, such as interest in a business, real estate in several states, or assets that have a value exceeding the specified limits in Arizona statutes, it will have to go through probate. If the decedent’s family doesn’t get along and there is a lot of fighting, being executor can be challenging and you might even be resented. Decide if you are up to the task and review all the circumstances before you commit to this important role.

While some people feel compelled to get the probate process underway quickly, in most situations there is no real need to rush the process. In most situations, the family can take time to grieve before getting involved in the probate process in Arizona. After all, even if you are nominated as executor in an individual’s Will, you cannot act on it until the court officially appoints you to the role. The appointment must take place in the court of the county where the decedent resided at his or her time of death. To get this process started, you will file a form with the probate court. This document is called an “Application for Informal Probate of Will and Appointment of Personal Representative.” If the decedent did not have a Will, you will file an “Application for Informal Appointment of Personal Representative.” Both these documents start what is called “informal probate” in the Arizona legal system.

The Decedent Didn’t Have A Will

If you are appointed executor by the court for an estate where the decedent did not have a Will, you will have to distribute the assets in accordance to Arizona statutes. Precedence is given to a surviving spouse to serve as an executor of an estate in these situations. Second in line would be anyone else that is going to inherit property according to Arizona intestate statutes. You would have to apply for the role and be appointed by the court since you were not nominated in a Will because the decedent failed to prepare one. Sometimes intestate cases can be settled easily, but at other times there might be disputes over the inheritance. However, Arizona statutes do indicate how assets are to be divided when there is no Will. You will have to follow Arizona law. Remember, any errors made distributing assets can leave the executor liable for the damages that are suffered by creditors or beneficiaries.

Questions About Serving as Executor

You will most likely have questions about your role as an executor in an Arizona estate. Consult with an estate attorney who can help you understand the process and what the role entails.