Handling the financial affairs of a loved one that has passed away can be difficult and confusing. We can help you navigate these difficult times. We help you gather your loved one’s assets, pay debts, provide legally required notices, and represent you in any court proceedings that may be necessary. We promise to keep you informed of what’s happening in your matter.
We represent trustees, personal representatives, and estate administrators with the estate and trust administration process.
In addition to probate and trust matters in Arizona courts, our firm also handles ancillary probate matters (also known as ancillary estate administration) for property in Arizona for estates from all 50 states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
What is a will?
A will directs how a person’s property is distributed after debts and expenses are paid. A will does not direct how non-probate property, such as life insurance, is distributed. If you die without a will, state law governs how your estate is distributed.
Custody of any surviving minor children is often disputed if there is no will. A will can name your preference for a guardian.
What is a trust?
A trust permits property to be given to someone else without having to go through the probate process.
What are powers of attorney?
A durable power of attorney appoints someone to act for you in financial matters. “Durable” means the authority continues until your death and can be exercised even if you are ill, in a coma, or are mentally incompetent.
A health care power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy or a living will, appoints someone to make health care decisions for you if you are ill, in a coma, or are mentally incompetent.
What should I do when my loved one dies? Printer Friendly
1. Ask for Help. Let your friends and family help you. They can answer the phone, care for the home, and feed pets. Have someone you trust stay at home during the memorial service, to prevent possible break-ins.
2. Death Certificates. Work closely with the funeral home to obtain certified copies of the death certificate. Certified copies are often required to apply for benefits or for proof of death when transferring property.
3. Estate Administration. Notify the person named as the Trustee, Executor, or Personal Representative.
4. Mail. If you are administering the estate, change the mailing address with the post office, so that mail comes to you. Invoices and statements that come in the mail will help you determine bills to be paid and potential assets.
5. Subscriptions. Cancel subscriptions to newspapers and magazines; these can indicate a home is empty.
6. Bills. Cancel any unneeded automatic bill payments, such as phone service.
7. Will. If there is a Will, it may have to be filed with the probate court before assets can be distributed.
8. No Will. In Arizona, if there is no Will, statutes provide for the estate to go to the nearest next of kin.
9. Small Estates. Arizona law permits some small estates to be administered without probate by using an affidavit.
10. Social Security Benefits. To apply for death benefits, a Social Security number is needed. If you are a spouse, you will need a marriage license. If there are surviving minor or disabled children, you will also need their birth certificates to apply for their benefits.
11. Life Insurance. Check the records for any life insurance policies and contact the life insurance company regarding any possible benefits.
12. Bank Accounts. If there are bank accounts, they may read “POD,” which means payable upon death, or “JTROS,” which means joint tenants with survivorship. If so, they may not belong to the estate.
13. Investments. Check the records for any stocks, bonds, investment accounts, bank accounts, or other assets.
14. Employer Benefits. If your loved one was employed, contact his or her employer; there may be some life insurance or other death benefits.
15. Other Benefits. Explore whether there are benefits from the federal government, such as Civil Service or Veteran’s benefits.
If you would like help with any of these steps, please contact our firm. We would be happy to assist you.