What Does a "Notice of Probate of Will" Mean? - person on a couch holding head in hand

What Does a “Notice of Probate of Will” Mean?

The death of a loved one is a challenging time. Unfamiliar legal terms, documents, and processes can make this time even more overwhelming. If you’ve received a notice of probate of will, or have to send them out as the executor, you may be wondering what exactly this document is.

When someone receives a notice of probate of will, it means that they have an interest in the estate of someone who has died. Probate is the legal court process that oversees the final distribution of assets, and payment of liabilities for a person who has died without a Living Trust or LLC. The notice of probate lets beneficiaries and heirs know that legal proceedings in which they have rights are about to begin.

The Process of Probate

The first step in this process involves submitting the decedent’s will to the probate court. This is usually done by the executor or by a relative of the deceased. The court will then determine if the will is valid, and if so, officially name or appoint an executor. Whoe the court chooses depends on whether someone was named in the will, or if the court must choose among the decedent’s surviving heris. The executor then sends the notice of probate to the designated heirs, and the process of distribution of the estate to the heirs begins.

But if there is no will (a condition known as intestate), the process takes longer and is more complex. The court will then appoint an estate administrator who will handle the duties of an executor. The heirs of the deceased will receive the notice of probate according to the laws of the state where the decedent resided. These laws of intestate succession will have already set forth the order of who receives assets from the estate (i.e., spouse, children, parents, siblings, and so on).

Interested Parties

These are the beneficiaries designated in the will, or the heirs determined by the laws of intestate succession. The rights of the interested parties include the right to an accounting of assets, an inventory of the estate, and the right to contest the will. They also have the right to an accounting of all funds paid to creditors, and all legal fees paid out of the estate.

Tax Burden

The decedent’s estate is required to pay taxes on any income earned prior to the death of the deceased. It also must pay taxes on any income earned by the estate after the death. That would include any dividends, royalties, and interest on financial accounts.

The value of an estate’s assets may also be subject to taxation, apart from income tax. The heirs of an estate may also have to pay income tax on anything they inherit, if they live outside of Arizona. Only some states impose an inheritance tax, but Arizona is not one of them. However, Arizona estates could be subject to the federal inheritance tax.

How to Avoid Probate

Phelps LaClair has administered hundreds of estates over the last 40 years, and we know the intricacies of probate. With instruments like Living Trusts and LLCs, it’s possible to avoid probate altogether. Ensuring your estate avoids probate is a good idea, since your beneficiaries will be saved from expensive court fees. They will also avoid the delay of distribution of assets that occurs when a will goes to probate court.

Do your heirs and yourself a favor: come see us and let’s plan together for a better, probate-free inheritance. At Phelps LaClair in the Phoenix Valley area, we’ve been serving families for several generations. Let us help you establish a Living Trust that helps you carry out your wishes in the best way possible. We’ll ensure your assets end up in the right hands at the right time without added probate fees.



Images used under creative commons license (Commerical Use) 02/20/19    Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

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