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Frequently Asked Questions

Pink Dust

We've put together a list of our most frequently asked questions here. If you have a question that isn't answered, please let us know!

  • If you have a Last Will and Testament, that means your estate will not have to go through probate, right?"
    No. In Arizona, having a Will does not necessarily avoid probate.
  • Why is probate even necessary?
    It is the only way to give the Personal Representative the legal authority to handle a deceased person’s affairs.
  • What is a Personal Representative or Executor?
    This is the person who will be empowered by the Court to handle the affairs of a deceased person. This person may be named in a Last Will and Testament, but if there is no Last Will and Testament, a Personal Representative can still be appointed by the Court.
  • How long does probate take?
    Probate can take anywhere from roughly 5 months to years, and the length of time will be dependent upon a number of factors such as whether there is a Last Will and Testament, whether the beneficiaries agree, what kind of property is in the estate, and what kind of debts the decedent had.
  • Will I be responsible for my parents’ debts after they pass away?
    No. You will not be personally responsible to pay anything that you did not guarantee. However, your parents’ estate may be responsible for paying their debts, and there is a legal process in place for handling those. You should not engage paying your parent’s debts after they pass away until you have met with an experienced attorney.
  • My spouse and I own our home together, and both of our names are on the deed, so if one of us dies, the other will get the house, right?"
    That depends. Does it specify that you own it as “husband and wife” without further explanation? If so, that may not mean that the house automatically passes entirely to the survivor. Does it mention right of survivorship anywhere? If it does, this will likely result in the property passing fully to the survivor.
  • Is there any way to avoid probate?
    Yes! We are happy to walk you through the various options you have available to you to avoid probate. Probate is not a horrible thing; it is the legal way to make sure the rightful heirs of an estate receive their inheritance and the rightful creditors of an estate get paid. Probate can be time-consuming and costly, and there are ways to bypass probate.
  • What is a guardianship?
    A guardian is someone who has been appointed by the court to oversee the care and custody of a minor or an adult who has been legally determined to be incapacitated.
  • What is a conservatorship?
    A conservator is a person or a fiduciary, appointed by a court to manage the property of a minor or an adult who has been legally determined to be incapacitate.
  • What are the alternatives to guardianships and/or conservatorships?
    There are several less restrictive alternatives to guardianship, including trusts, durable powers of attorney, and health-care powers of attorney. However, these documents must be executed before the individual is incapable of doing so due to mental incapacity. That’s why proper planning is so important; by the time a loved one reaches the point of incapacity, it’s too late to get things in order without court intervention.
  • How is the guardianship/conservatorship terminated?
    Guardianship and conservatorship for a minor terminate on the minor’s 18th birthday. In the case of a conservatorship for a minor, the conservator prepares and files with the court a final accounting of the administration of the estate. Upon the court’s approval of the final accounting, the conservator transfers the estate to the former ward and, upon filing a final receipt with the court, the conservator is discharged by the court from any further responsibility. On the other hand, guardianship and conservatorship for an incapacitated person terminate only when the ward is found to be competent by the court or upon the death of the ward. When either of these two events occurs, the conservator prepares a final accounting for the court and the conservator and guardian are discharged in much the same manner as with the termination of a minor’s estate. In some cases when the estate of the ward has been completely exhausted, the conservator may be discharged by the court upon filing a final accounting, but the duties of the guardian will continue until such time as the ward is found to be competent by the court or dies.


No Attorney-Client Relationship is created by the use of this website. Neither your receipt of information from this website nor your use of this website to contact Shepston Law Firm, PLLC, (hereinafter “the Firm”) or one of its lawyers creates a confidential communication or an attorney-client relationship between you and anyone at the Firm. By filling out the “Contact Us” form and clicking “send”, you hereby agree that you are not a client of Shepston Law Firm, PLLC and you understand that the information that you send via this link will be used to check for conflicts and may not be kept confidential. You will become a client of the Firm only if and when you sign an engagement agreement setting forth the scope of the Firm’s engagement, the fee arrangement, and other relevant matters. As a matter of policy, the Firm does not accept a new client without first investigating for possible conflicts of interests and obtaining a signed engagement letter.

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