by Richard Keyt, Arizona probate attorney
Is It a Good Idea to do a Do-It-Yourself Probate Rather than Hire an Arizona Probate Lawyer?
Of course I am biased, but based on my years of experience as an Arizona probate attorney representing personal representatives in Arizona probates I know that for most people the do-it-yourself probate is a very bad idea for the following reasons:
5. The probate is a Superior Court proceeding supervised by a judge. Courts have rules of procedure and formalities that can easily create serious problems for people who fail to follow the court’s published rules of procedure.
4. The personal representative must prepare and file numerous legal documents. How does the personal representative know what documents to file and when to file?
3. Arizona probate law requires the personal representative to give certain notices to people and creditors within certain time periods. Arizona probate law imposes liability on the personal representative who fails to give all required notices properly. DIY personal representatives frequently fail to give all required notices properly.
2. When the DIY personal representative has questions how does he/she get an answer?
1. The number one reason nobody should do a do-it-yourself Arizona probate is Arizona Revised Statutes Section 14-3712 which states “If the exercise of power concerning the estate is improper, the personal representative is liable to interested persons for damage or loss resulting from breach of his fiduciary duty.” The personal representative owes fiduciary duties to the estate and to the devisees and heirs and is liable to them for any breach of fiduciary duty. I’ve never encountered a DIY personal representative who knew all of his/her fiduciary duties. Query: If you don’t know your duty how can you satisfy it? Note: If you don’t know what a devisee or heir is or don’t know the difference you should appreciate that you need an Arizona probate attorney to handle the probate.
If you are considering a do-it-yourself Arizona probate, do yourself a big favor and do not do it. Instead, hire an experienced Arizona probate lawyer to do it right and protect yourself from having a fool for a client. The cost for the probate lawyer is payable ultimately from the assets of the estate, not from your pocket so why not hire an experienced Arizona probate attorney?
What are the Legal Fees for a Probate & can the Personal Representative be Reimbursed for Advancing the Fee?
The typical legal fees and court costs for me to do a simple uncontested Arizona probate is $2,000 – $2,500. I require the personal representative to pay a security deposit of $2,500 from which we pay our monthly bill. Most of our probates are completed for less than $2,500 and we refund the unused amount to the personal representative.
Although the personal representative must pay our security deposit, the personal representative may be reimbursed from estate assets for the security deposit.