Being designated the executor of someone’s estate means that you have an important duty to fulfill. You must complete numerous tasks, many of which are complex or require the preparation of legal documents. However, executors are often chosen based on their relationship with the testator rather than their experience with the probate system. If you are unsure about how to carry out estate administration responsibilities, having an experienced lawyer by your side can make your job much easier.

As the personal representative for a decedent’s estate, you should be aware that you are a fiduciary owing a duty to the estate and the decedent’s heirs. Since you can be held personally liable for any mistakes made during the probate process, it is wise to consult with a qualified legal counselor to help you avoid unnecessary problems.

An experienced probate attorney can assist with:

  • Filing paperwork with the court — There is a considerable amount of paperwork that must be filed with the court during the probate process, and specific forms must be used.
  • Locating assets that must be brought into the estate — Many assets owned solely by the person who died in the estate must be located so they can be distributed during the probate process. In some cases, an estate can be reopened if assets are located after it has been closed. However, items such as jointly held accounts, life insurance proceeds and investments with a named beneficiary are transferred outside the probate system.
  • Making an inventory of the decedent’s property — A complete list of the decedent’s assets and property must be compiled and maintained as estate transactions are made.
  • Paying the decedent’s creditors — The executor is responsible for using estate funds to pay debts owed by the decedent.
  • Satisfying tax requirements — Any taxes due must be paid on behalf of the decedent, and the necessary returns must be filed.
  • Distributing the estate — The executor must ensure the property in the estate is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries.

A probate attorney can guide you through the various aspects of estate administration and help you settle the estate as quickly and efficiently as possible. In some cases, you may also need to negotiate with creditors who have significant claims against the estate. An attorney can give you legal advice and representation during the probate proceedings.

Estate administration can be complicated but retaining a seasoned attorney will help you navigate the process. Located in Mesa, Arizona, the Law Firm of Joseph M. Udall, PLC provides skilled counsel for a wide variety of probate and estate administration matters. Call (480) 500-1866 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.