Probate Lawyers in Phoenix
Assistance with a Complex Legal Process
If you are in charge of probating your deceased loved one’s estate, you may want to speak to a lawyer at Kamper & Estrada, PLLC. We have guided many people like yourself through the probate process. We are here to assist you every step of the way. A probate lawyer is a state-licensed lawyer who knows how to advise personal representatives, known as executors and beneficiaries of an estate, regarding how to settle the final affairs of a deceased person.
If you are experiencing challenges for which you need a legal professional to handle your situation, it may be in your best interest to contact us today.
Probate is a type of court system that gives the estate executor the power to act on behalf of the deceased. You can look to a lawyer to provide the proper guidance for your legal probate matters. Our lawyers understand each and every case is unique and requires individualized attention and care.
What We Can Do for You
Our law firm provides estate planning and related legal services that can make it possible for families to avoid going through the probate process. Avoiding probate is desirable, as it can delay the distribution of assets and lessen the value of the estate after court costs and attorney fees are paid. Our team offers valuable guidance to Arizona families in planning their estate, as well as assistance with administering estates after a loved one passes. If you would like to know more about our services, give us a call to schedule a brief consultation with our team. You can come into our office or discuss your case on the phone at no charge to you.
After our lawyers have a sense of your circumstances, we can suggest ways in which you and your family can avoid the probate process. Here are several common methods:
Create a Living Trust
A living trust is similar in some ways to a will, but the two are often used in tangent to ensure that a person’s last wishes can be fully honored. A living trust can also benefit the creator of the trust for the remainder of their lifetime.
Here is what you can expect:
- After our probate lawyer helps you to create a living trust, you will transfer the ownership of your assets to the trust.
- The person you designate to manage the trust is known as the trustee, and you can name yourself to take this role.
- This will permit you to retain control of those assets, but upon your passing, because they are “owned” by the trust, they will be exempt from probate.
Designate Beneficiaries for Your Financial Accounts
Many types of financial accounts permit the account holder to designate a beneficiary who will inherit the monies upon your passing. Beneficiaries of retirement plans, investments, insurance policies, pension plans, stocks and bonds, bank accounts, and many more kinds of financial accounts can inherit those funds without having to go through probate. Check with the bank or brokerage company associated with each of your accounts to learn if your spouse will automatically inherit those assets or if you can designate them or another person.
Choose Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship
Another option that your probate lawyer may suggest is to change the ownership of your property to a joint tenancy or ownership. Property that is jointly owned will transfer to the surviving owner and will not have to go through probate. If you already own a house or are planning to purchase one, name the person who you want to inherit full ownership of the property as your joint tenant. Note that the person you designate does not have to be your spouse or related to you in any way.
Benefits of Hiring a Probate Lawyer
While it’s possible to handle the probate process on your own, it may be in your best interest to hire legal help.
Here are a few benefits of working with an experienced lawyer:
- Legal expertise: The average person doesn’t deal with estates very often and might not know what to do if a problem arises. A probate lawyer has dealt with many estates and is prepared to handle any complications that may come up. However, dealing with the court and completing the required paperwork can be a complex and complicated process. For these reasons, many people seek legal assistance from our team, who can help them with the administration of the deceased’s estate. When an estate involves a significant amount of assets, questions and tensions can arise.
- Save time: Administering an estate can be quite time-consuming. This can put a lot of unneeded stress on your back when you are grieving over the loss of a loved one. If you hire us, we can do the legwork for you, saving you time.
- Minimize taxes: When you administer an estate, you will likely have to pay estate taxes. A lawyer may be able to help you reduce these taxes as much as possible. In fact, your tax savings may be significantly higher than any costs associated with hiring a probate lawyer.
- Avoid family arguments: If beneficiaries don’t believe they are being treated fairly, heated arguments can arise. Our team can be there to alleviate tension among family members during this difficult time and provide answers to their questions. These questions can be very crucial for you to answer or understand. Our lawyers have worked on simple and the most complex of estates, and as a result, are familiar with best practices to resolve legal issues.
- Manage complex assets: Simple assets, like bank accounts and vehicles, are normally easy to manage on your own. However, if the estate contains more complex assets, like real estate or businesses, it may be necessary to have a probate lawyer to help you manage these assets. When the estate assets are divided, the process of distributing them based on percentage shares and other methods of disbursement can be confusing. This is why, for more complex estates, it is not always optimal for the executor to handle alone.
- Assist with debts: If there are a lot of debts in the estate that the assets can’t cover, it may be advisable to hire a member of our legal team. Creditor laws can be quite complex, and a lawyer may help you determine which debts have priority. In some instances, you may make the mistake of paying the debts in a random fashion and not paying down the one that has a specific deadline or time limit, or not paying down the loan that has been taken with a high rate of interest. To preserve the estate’s maximum value, it’s important to resolve any debt issues as soon as possible.
Problems with Probate
Going through probate can be a particularly difficult process, especially if you do not have a lawyer on your side. While probate may be a necessary process in certain circumstances, there are situations that can arise that make it even harder. There are a number of things that can go wrong during the probate process, which is why it is best to be prepared beforehand. If you know that you are part of an estate plan that will go through the probate process, speaking with a lawyer is one of the best ways that you can be ready for anything that comes your way.
Different Problems That May Arise During Probate
- Someone contests the will: This is not uncommon, especially if the will in question has expensive assets or if someone believes that they were wrongly left out of the will. Although there is not something inherently wrong with contesting a will, it can make matters complicated. A person may rightly believe that the will does not accurately reflect the decedent’s wishes, or they may be in it for their own good. Whatever the case, it is best to have an attorney there.
- The executor complicates the process: This can come by way of either not filling their role as executor of the estate or by not fulfilling their duties appropriately. If they choose not to fulfill the role, this means that the court will need to appoint someone else, and this could take longer. Or, if they are not acting out of respect to the wishes in the will, you should have an attorney to help remove them from this position.
- You cannot locate all of the assets: This can make things very complicated, and it can truly draw out the probate process. To deliver assets to the right people or groups, you have to know where they are in the first place. If you cannot locate an asset, your attorney may be able to help you with a paper trail. Our probate attorneys know that this problem can be avoided altogether if the decedent left clear instructions for locating assets before passing away.
Clearly, there are many problems that can occur with a will during the probate process. Having an attorney with you before probate begins can help ensure you understand what the process will be like and can help you prepare if you hit any legal speed bumps along the way.
Setting Up a Consultation with a Probate Lawyer
If you have decided to hire a probate lawyer, the first step is to set up an initial consultation with one. During the meeting, we want to find out more background information about the estate you are in charge of, and might request to see certain documents, such as tax returns and deeds. These documents can be reviewed and prioritized so that all of the necessary steps are taken to ensure full legal compliance. The legal process can be discussed in detail with the beneficiary or the family members named as heirs in the will. Because every situation is different, after a thorough review of the circumstances, we can explain what may be necessary in order to settle the estate as soon as possible.