Who Should Have a Probate Lawyer During the Probate Process?
In Arizona, the person who has the most responsibility during the probate process is called the personal representative (executor) of an estate.
The personal representative has a fiduciary duty to beneficiaries and creditors. This is the highest duty one person can owe another, and is the same duty lawyers owe to clients.
Personal representatives are named in the will and appointed by the court, or if there is no will, have priority for appointment according to Arizona statutes. Personal representatives oversee and manage every aspect of the probate process. They have to do things like take care of the decedent’s property, file for probate with the court, and determine what claims against the estate are valid. A personal representative may be personally liable for failing to properly fulfill all of these duties.
Due to their myriad complex responsibilities, a personal representative should consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after discovering they have been named as a personal representative.
Heirs or beneficiaries don’t have as many formal responsibilities during the probate process, but it is their inheritance on the line so it makes sense for them to try to secure legal representation as well. Finally, for any individual who wishes to contest a will, having an experienced attorney is absolutely essential to understand this process.