The Personal Representative: Who can be one, and how are they supervised?
A personal representative is an individual who is entrusted with the duty and responsibility of settling and distributing an estate. Once an individual passes away, his or her belongings become part of the estate, which must be administered in a probate proceeding. The personal representative follows the terms of a will or the rule of law in Arizona in administering the estate, and has special duties to act with care.
In Arizona, any of the following people may be appointed as a personal representative:
(1) The person nominated in the deceased’s will.
(2) The surviving spouse of the deceased if provided for in the will.
(3) Another individual given a gift in the will.
(4) The surviving spouse not provided for in a will.
(5) Other heirs of the deceased.
(6) If the deceased was a veteran, the Department of Veterans’ Services.
(7) Any creditor of the deceased, if 45 days have passed after the death of the deceased.
(8) The public fiduciary.
These eligible personal representatives are listed in order or priority, meaning that if a person is nominated in the deceased’s will to be a personal representative (#1 on the list above), that individual must be offered the title of personal representative over the deceased’s surviving spouse (#2 or 4 above).
In most situations, the personal representative is not supervised a great deal. Exceptions to this rule include decisions regarding payment to him or herself or his or her attorney. Additionally, there are three types of probate cases in Arizona: informal, formal, and supervised. The more formal the proceeding, the more supervision is given from the court.
It is always best to speak with a qualified Probate attorney to discuss your situation.