Estate Administration Basics

In the majority of cases, when someone dies their estate will be probated. Probate is the court-supervised process whereby a decedent’s property is transferred to the beneficiaries. The probate process begins with the probate court validating the will and naming a “personal representative,” who is the person that takes charge of the estate and reports to the court directly throughout the process.

Executors and administrators are both types of personal representatives. When the decedent left a will, the executor is the individual that was nominated by the decedent in his or her will. When the decedent dies intestate (without a will), the administrator is typically nominated by the decedent’s family. However, one or more individuals, or a bank or trust company can act in this capacity as well. Under Arizona law, an administrator must be a resident of Arizona, whereas an executor must be a resident of the United States, but they do not need to be a resident of Arizona. Anyone who serves as an executor or administrator must be approved and appointed by the court. The executor or administrator has the following duties with the court:

  • File the will with the circuit clerk within 30 days of the decedent’s death
  • Publish required legal notices
  • File periodic and final accountings

Responsibilities of a Personal Representative

The responsibilities of a personal representative or administrator are primarily covered under the Arizona Probate Act and the Internal Revenue Code; however, the basic responsibilities include:

  • Collect and inventory all assets
  • File income tax returns
  • File federal or state estate tax returns where applicable
  • Preserve and manage assets during administration
  • Sell property to meet the objectives of the estate
  • Review any life insurance policies and help beneficiaries collect on them
  • Consider all claims against the estate
  • Arrange for the transfer of all assets such as bank accounts and investments etc.
  • Distribute the estate in accordance with the will

Searching for a lawyer for a probate case in Arizona?

The average person shouldn’t take on the role of an executor or personal representative without professional legal help. Since few people are experienced with addressing the fiduciary responsibilities associated with estate administration, we urge you to enlist the services of a Arizona estate administration attorney from Ferris, Thompson & Zweig. With over 20 years of experience working in the Cook County courts, we can assist you through every phase of the estate administration process. Contact our office today by calling (480) 543-8700.


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