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Probate, quite simply, is the process by which the court determines the legal property of a person who has died, and decides to whom those assets will be distributed. It sounds like it should be simple, but somehow, unfortunately, probate is hardly ever simple. Even in the best of circumstances there are procedures that must be followed to the letter, and the actual process (depending on the size of the estate and the laws of the state in which the property is being probated) can take anywhere from 6 months to a few years!

A well-written and executed will can go a long way toward keeping the probate process on the short and easy end of the spectrum; but even with a will, much of your probate experience will depend on elements outside your realm of control. There are certain steps that must be followed to complete the probate process, including:

* The appointment of an executor or personal representative

* Verification of the will

* Taking an inventory of assets belonging to the deceased (which can be very difficult if good records have not been kept)

* Giving notice to creditors

* Paying valid claims against the estate

* Preparing and paying taxes

* Notifying beneficiaries (not all of whom will be easy to find)

* And eventually distributing the assets to the beneficiaries or heirs

If just reading the above takes your breath away, imagine having to organize and execute all of those steps—and possibly more! The good news is that if you find yourself serving as executor of a loved one’s will or estate, you don’t have to go through the process alone. Our office can help you navigate the tangled probate maze from beginning to end—from filing the first court documents to protecting your eventual inheritance—ensuring that your probate experience goes as quickly and smoothly as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact us and find out what your first (or next) steps should be.

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Ilene L. McCauley and Frederick H. Goldinov are licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona. The law firm of Goldinov & McCauley, PLC provides legal services for clients in the State of Arizona. The information provided on this website and our blog is general and educational in nature and should not be construed as legal or tax advice, nor does the use of the website create an attorney/client relationship. Laws of specific states or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy or completeness of this information which cannot take the place of one-on-one personal legal consultation and advice. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. No legal representation is created, and we make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use. Neither the authors nor anyone forwarding or reproducing this work shall have any liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained in this website or blog.