& Trust Administration
Handling the financial affairs of a deceased loved one can be both difficult and confusing. Rettelle Law PLC can assist you in maneuvering through the probate court system and inform you of circumstances when probate can be avoided. Rettelle Law PLC is also able to advise clients on how to administer both trust and probate estates. A lot of misinformation circulates about this subject, and it is often portrayed as a sinister and scary subject. While it can be confusing at below are a few things to understand about the probate process.
Probate is a court proceeding by which a Will is proved to be valid or invalid. In Arizona, the Superior Court monitors all legal proceedings related to a deceased person’s (decedent) estate, including ensuring that the decedent’s liabilities and bills (debts) are paid, and their assets are distributed following both the law and their wishes.
A person who dies “testate” has a valid Will in place when they die, and their estate passes to their divisees (people they have designated to inherit). To die “intestate” means that no such valid document exists, and in that case, a person’s heirs (those legally entitled to inherit) are the beneficiaries of the Estate. In Arizona, both testate and intestate probates are handled by the Superior Court. It is also possible for a decedent to leave a Will behind, but for various reasons, the document does not meet the necessary qualifications to be a valid Will, and therefore they will be deemed to have died intestate.
In addition to knowing whether a probate action is testate or intestate, Rettelle Law PLC can help you determine whether the probate is a “formal” one or an “informal” one. The vast majority of probate matters in Arizona are informal. This means that there is a valid Will, and there are currently no contested matters. A “registrar” (a Judge, clerk of the court, or a court commissioner) of the Probate Court will oversee the administration of an informal probate; however, that usually is limited to verifying that all necessary documents and forms are filed and providing to the Personal Representative (formerly known as the Executor) a certified letter from the court granting them the authority to act on behalf of the Estate. A formal probate is one where there is some dispute or decision that needs to be made by a Judge related to the administration of the decedent’s estate. This can range from a simple question of who is the properly names Personal Representative to whether the Will is valid or invalid.
Rettelle Law PLC can help you determine whether a loved one had a valid Will under Arizona law and file all the appropriate documents with the court as well as represent you at any formal hearing. Rettelle Law PLC can also advise Personal Representatives on their duties and obligations such as notification and payment to creditors of the estate, distribution of assets, the filing of the proper state and federal tax notification forms, as well as dealing with heirs and beneficiaries of the Estate.
Rettelle Law PLC can also help you determine whether an Estate can be managed or assets collected without the need for a Probate proceeding. Arizona law allows that if a decedent’s estate is of a small enough value, the assets may be collected and distributed using a Small Estate Affidavit or an Affidavit for the Collection of Personal Property. The use of such affidavits is much more economical and does not require any court filings or hearings. If the decedent’s Estate meets the necessary criteria, Rettelle Law PLC can draft the necessary affidavits and advise how they may be used.
Many people now use Trusts in conjunction with Wills to manage their estates. A Trustee is a person named in a Trust document to administer the Trust upon the decedent’s death. A Trustee, just like Personal Representative, has certain duties and obligations related to the administration of the Trust. Rettelle Law PLC can provide assistance and counsel to Trustees to better understand their obligations and duties in administering a Trust Estate.
Rettelle Law PLC also provides litigation assistance in the areas of Adult Guardianships, Conservatorships. A Guardianship and Conservatorship is necessary in one of two situations. The first is when a previously handicapped minor child reaches 18 and will need to have someone appointed to continue making financial and personal decisions on their behalf. The Second is when a previously able-bodied adult suffers some sort of medical, physical, or psychological event, making them unable to make decisions that are in their best interest or could put themselves at risk. They have no previously executed Powers of Attorney designating someone to act on their behalf in such a circumstance.
Rettelle Law PLC has represented trustees administrators, personal representatives, beneficiaries, and others involved in controversies related to the administration of both trust and probate estate.
At Rettelle Law PLC, the goal is to provide comprehensive assistance to personal representatives, trustees, and/or beneficiaries in dealing with the issues that arise while administering the probate or trust estate efficiently and sensitively.