What to Do When a Loved One Dies in Arizona

When a loved one passes away, the surviving friends and family members often have questions regarding what steps to take legally.

The first thing you should do is to make funeral arrangements. Some people leave instructions upon their death as far as whether they wish to be buried or cremated, and how they want their funeral to be handled. You may wish to look through your loved one’s papers to see if any such instructions exist. If not, take some time to speak with other friends and family members and consider what the decedent would have wanted. You may wish to contact a funeral director for guidance. Beyond any arrangements regarding the disposition of the deceased’s body, with very few exceptions, none of the legal steps to be taken upon a person’s death require immediate action. We encourage our clients to first tend to their emotional needs, and then, when ready, start to put the decedent’s affairs in order.

The legal plan for a decedent’s estate may vary depending on whether the decedent passed away intestate (without a will) or testate (with a will), and what other mechanisms, if any, the decedent had in place at the time of his or her death. Typically, most wills in Arizona will make a statement to waive a bond. If there is no will, the next of kin may need to post a bond to handle the decedent’s affairs. There is a host of paperwork to fill out to probate a deceased party’s estate. This paperwork needs to be filed within two years of the decedent’s passing.

If there was a will, find the will and figure out who has been named as the personal representative (often referred to as an executor or executrix in other states). If you are not the person named as personal representative, then you should contact the personal representative. The personal representative’s role is to handle the probate estate. As personal representative, there will be several forms to will fill out and hand in with the original will in order to be appointed. If there is no will, and you are the next-of-kin to the decedent, you will still have to fill out this paperwork, but you will also have to apply to be the personal representative. We recommend you seek a consultation with an attorney to make sure that the paperwork is filled out and properly filed in probate court. Along with this paperwork, you’ll also have to send a copy of the will and certain other documentation to other beneficiaries or close relatives of the decedent.

The next step will be to publish notice to creditors that you have been appointed as the personal representative. After you publish notice, you will want to put together a list of assets and liabilities owed by the estate. There is a four-month waiting period after notice is published for anyone to come forward with claims against the estate. If there are no claims, then at the end of the four-month period the personal representative can apply to close the estate. If there are claims, these claims must be settled before the estate can be closed.

If you are not the personal representative and you believe a will was forged or undue influence was otherwise involved, you may wish to bring a claim against the estate during this claims period.

The attorneys at The Carroll Law Firm offer representation in probate matters to help ease the burden during this difficult time. If you have questions or concerns, please contact our office at (623)551-9366 for a free probate consultation, or refer to our website, www.CarrollLawFirm.com.


2 Comments to “What to Do When a Loved One Dies in Arizona”

  1. An aunt of mine from Phoenix just died recently. This article offers wonderful information regarding the probate process.

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