Probate & Trust Administration

Probate and Trust Administration

Trust Administration Assistance

As part of our elder law practice, we handle probate matters and trust administration for our clients. A probate action through the court after a person passes away includes the filing of a petition, publishing notice to creditors, inventory and appraisal of the estate, payment of debts, claims and taxes, and final distribution and closing of the estate.


Reasons why probate may be required:

  • Assets are left, such as bank and investment accounts, real estate – things in which an account or title would have to be transferred
  • Disagreements over the stipulations of the Will
  • Debts owed to creditors
  • No beneficiaries named
  • No other estate plans made, such as setting up sole/joint survivorship or revocable living trusts
  • No Will exists

The representative named in the Will is usually responsible for initiating the probate procedure. When there is no Will, a close friend or relative typically initiates the probate and becomes the court-appointed personal representative.

The representative’s responsibilities for probate include the following:

  • Filing the petition with the court
  • Publishing a notice to creditors
  • Providing an inventory of the estate and appraisal
  • Payment of debts, claims, and taxes
  • Collecting any monies owed the deceased
  • Final distribution and closing of the estate to beneficiaries (when there is a Will) or to heirs (when there is no Will and according to local laws)

Our estate planning services can help you and your loved ones avoid probate.

Trust Administration

In the event someone named in the trust becomes incapacitated and a successor trustee needs to take over, it’s important that the following are handled according to the law:

  • Proper notice is given to beneficiaries
  • Trust accountings are done, taxes are minimized, creditors paid
  • Assets properly distributed according to the terms of the trust

The following types of property do not have to be settled through probate:

  • Property held in a trust
  • Property owned as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship or community property with right of survivorship
  • Property for which a Beneficiary Deed has been created. This deed stipulates that the property of the deceased is transferred automatically to the beneficiary upon death of the property owner and therefore is not subject to probate
  • Assets or property that transfer to beneficiaries from third-parties, such as life insurance payouts, investment accounts, and others

Probate is not required when the value of personal property (anything but land) is valued at less than $75,000 and the total value of real estate is less than $100,000 (tax assessed value minus amount of mortgages and/or liens).

Depending on the situation, probate may or may not work in your favor:

Advantages of Probate:

  • Once a notice to creditors is published, they have four months to file a claim against the estate, otherwise the deceased’s debts are cancelled
  • If there are disagreements over an estate or stipulations in a Will, probate will handle

Disadvantages of Probate:

  • Probate is public and anyone can have access to the court file, including estate inventories
  • It’s time consuming, usually taking 6 months or more
  • With attorney’s fees and court fees, probate can cost several thousand dollars

Having a Last Will and Testament is one of the keys to making sure your estate is handled correctly upon death. A Will names a representative, a person to carry out the stipulations of the Will. It also names beneficiaries. Having these decisions well planned out can help, but having a Will doesn’t necessarily ensure probate won’t be needed.

Remember, some assets and property that require title transfer may require probate and any disagreements that come up because of the stipulations of the Will will have to be handled by the court, as well.

The team at the Law Offices of Chester B. McLaughlin, P.C. has extensive experience with Probate cases in Arizona. Call us at (928) 443-9934 for assistance. We can help make sure all the required paperwork is filed with the probate court and provide support to help navigate you through this complex process.

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