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Can Probate Be Reopened? Everything You Need to Know

Two ladies researching on laptops. Can probate be reopened?

Can probate be reopened? Usually yes, the probate process can sometimes be reopened or amended. In certain cases, this may be necessary to undo mistakes, answer unresolved questions, and access previously unavailable resources. Here’s what you need to know about when, why and how probate can be reopened.

What is the Reopening of Probate?

Reopening a probate case involves filing for the necessary paperwork and following the applicable application procedures. These vary from one state to another and  you should discuss the process with a probate lawyer before proceeding. The attorney involved in the original case usually handles the matter when it is reopened.

Reasons and Circumstances that Prompt the Reopening of a Probate Case

There are several reasons and circumstances that can prompt the reopening of a probate case. Some common reasons why probate may be reopened include:

1. Discovery of new assets.

If someone discovers assets after the probate process has been completed, it may be necessary to reopen probate to ensure that they are distributed according to the deceased’s wishes or state law.

2. Disputes among beneficiaries.

If there is a dispute among beneficiaries about the distribution of assets, probate may be reopened to address these issues.

3. Errors in the original probate proceedings.

If there were errors or omissions in the original probate proceedings, probate may need to be reopened to correct these errors. For example, maybe there was a failure to notify all interested parties or a mistake in the distribution of assets. Also, we have occasionally had a situation where someone found the deceased person’s Last Will and Testament after everyone had assumed there wasn’t one.

Other reasons for reopening a probate include:

  • The discovery of a new beneficiary or beneficiary-in-waiting,
  • Discrepancies in the previously  dispersed assets and wealth,
  • Changes to applicable laws,
  • Fraud allegations against executors or administrators.
  • Additionally, filing for a deceased person’s taxes may require that the probate case be reopened.

How to File for the Reopening of a Probate Case

In order to file for the reopening of a probate case, you must petition the court in which the original case was heard. This petition should indicate the reason the requesting party wants to reopen the case. The petition should also contain any other relevant evidence that highlights why reopening the case is pertinent under current circumstances.

Here is what A.R.S.§ 14-3938 says:

If other property of the estate is discovered after an estate has been settled and the personal representative has been discharged or after one year after a closing statement has been filed, the registrar, if the original application was or could have been brought under article 3 of this chapter, or the court, if the original petition was required to have been brought under article 4 or 5 of this chapter, on the application or petition of any interested person and on notice as provided in this chapter, may appoint the same or a successor personal representative to administer the subsequently discovered estate.  If a new appointment is made, unless the court orders otherwise, the provisions of this title apply as appropriate, but a claim previously barred may not be asserted in the subsequent administration.”

Potential Benefits and Consequences.

Reopening probate can yield both benefits and consequences. On one hand, it allows for the resolution of disputes, the correction of errors, and the fair distribution of assets. It provides an opportunity to address overlooked or previously undisclosed assets, safeguard beneficiaries’ rights, and ensure the intentions of the deceased are properly honored. On the other hand, reopening probate may result in increased costs, prolonged legal proceedings, and potential discord among beneficiaries. What’s more, any assets or property involved in the case may not be released until a ruling has been made, creating financial stress and backlog issues that can interfere with estate distributions. Each case requires careful consideration of the potential benefits and drawbacks before pursuing probate reopening.

Time limits for reopening probate.

The time limits for reopening probate vary depending on the state and the circumstances of the case. In some states, there may be a specific time limit for filing a petition to reopen probate, while in others, the court may have discretion to allow a petition to be filed at any time. It is important to consult with an experienced probate attorney to determine the applicable time limits and to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to reopen probate in a timely and effective manner.

Who can request to reopen probate.

Generally, anyone with an interest in the estate can request to reopen probate. This includes beneficiaries, heirs, creditors, and even the prior executor or personal representative of the estate. However, the court will only grant a request to reopen probate if there is a valid reason for doing so, such as the discovery of new assets or the need to resolve a dispute over the distribution of assets. It is important to consult with an experienced probate attorney to determine whether reopening probate is the best course of action in your particular case.

Limitations on when probate can be repoened.

While probate can be reopened in certain circumstances, there are limitations on when this can occur. Generally, probate can only be reopened if there is new evidence or information that was not available at the time of the original probate proceedings. Additionally, there may be time limits on when probate can be reopened, depending on the laws of the state where the probate took place. It is important to consult with a probate attorney to determine if reopening probate is a viable option in your specific situation.

Other Questions People Ask About Reopening Probate

While probate is a common process used when you die, it can also be complex and confusing. In addition to asking “Can probate be reopened?” there are other questions that people commonly ask about the process, including how long does it take to reopen a probate case, who can reopen a probate case, and can a beneficiary file for the reopening of a probate case. Also, you might be wondering when a probate lawyer gets paid.

If you are wondering “can probate be reopened,” give us a call at 602-443-4888.

Conclusion: Can Probate Be Reopened?

Yes, probate can be reopened if new assets are discovered, if there are errors or fraud in the original proceedings, or if new interested parties come forward. The court must approve the reopening, and a petition explaining the reasons for reopening must be filed.

Let Us Help You.

If you believe that the probate process was not handled correctly or you have recently discovered new information that may impact the distribution of assets in an estate, it may be possible to reopen probate. Our team of experienced probate lawyers is here to help you navigate this complex process and ensure that your legal rights are protected.

With years of experience handling probate cases, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you reopen probate and achieve a fair resolution. We understand that this can be a stressful and emotional time, and we are committed to providing you with compassionate and effective legal representation.

If you believe that you may need to reopen probate, don’t hesitate to contact us today at 602-443-4888 to schedule a consultation. Our team is here to help you understand your legal options and take the necessary steps to achieve a just outcome.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.

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