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Who Can Apply for Probate and How to Do It

Man handing pen to someone to sign. Who can apply for probate?

Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate. If you’re wondering who can apply for probate, the answer depends on a few factors. In this guide, we’ll break down the requirements for applying for probate and provide a basic guide to help you navigate the process.

What is Probate and Why is it Necessary?

Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s assets that are in their name alone (also called their “estate”). It involves identifying and valuing the deceased person’s assets, paying off any debts or taxes owed, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the deceased person’s will or, if there is no will, according to state law. Probate is necessary to ensure that the deceased person’s assets are distributed according to their wishes and to provide a legal framework for resolving any disputes that may arise.

Who Can Apply for Probate if There Is a Will?

Generally, the personal representative named in the deceased person’s will is the one who applies for probate. However, any “interested person” can submit the documentation to the court. That documentation will usually nominate the personal representative designated in the will. However, if that person is not appropriate for some reason, the petition can explain why someone else should be appointed.

Who Can Apply for Probate When There Is No Will?

If there is no will, or if the named executor is unable or unwilling to serve, any “interested person” can submit paperwork to the court. In Arizona, A.R.S. Section 14-1201 defines “interested person” as “any trustee, heir, devisee, child, spouse, creditor, beneficiary, person holding a power of appointment and other person who has a property right in or claim against a trust estate or the estate of a decedent, ward or protected person. Interested person also includes a person who has priority for appointment as personal representative and other fiduciaries representing interested persons. Interested person, as the term relates to particular persons, may vary from time to time and must be determined according to the particular purposes of, and matter involved in, any proceeding.”

The person who applies for probate can name someone else to be personal representative (executor).

The person who files the paperwork with the court can name themselves or someone else to be personal representative (executor). In some cases, one or more people can name one or more co-personal representatives. This might happen if they are named as co-personal representatives in the will. It’s important to note that not everyone is eligible to serve as an executor or personal representative. So it’s important to consult with an attorney or legal professional to determine who is qualified to apply for probate in your specific situation.

Gather the Necessary Documents and Information.

Before applying for probate, it’s important to gather all the necessary documents and information. This includes the original will, death certificate, and any other relevant legal documents. You will also need to provide information about the deceased person’s assets, debts, and beneficiaries. It’s a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure you have all the necessary documents and information before beginning the probate process.

Complete the Probate Application and Submit it to the Court.

Once you have gathered all the necessary documents and information, it’s time to complete the probate application (or petition) and submit it to the court. The application or petition will vary depending on the state or country you are in, but it will generally require information about the deceased person, their assets and debts, and their beneficiaries. You may also need to provide information about yourself as the personal representative or executor of the estate. Once the application is complete, you will need to submit it to the appropriate court along with any required fees. The court will then review the application and, if everything is in order, grant probate.

Manage the Estate and Distribute Assets According to the Will or State Law.

After probate has been granted, the executor or personal representative of the estate will be responsible for managing the assets and distributing them according to the will or state law. This may involve selling property, paying off debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. It’s important to keep accurate records of all transactions and to communicate regularly with beneficiaries to ensure that everyone is aware of the status of the estate. If there are any disputes or challenges to the will, the executor or personal representative may need to work with a lawyer to resolve them.

Let Us Help You Decide Who Can Apply For Probate.

Are you grappling with the complexities of the probate process? Don’t navigate this legal terrain alone. Whether you’re a grieving family member, an executor named in a will, or a concerned party wondering who can apply for probate, our experienced team of attorneys is here to guide you through every step of the way. With a deep understanding of the probate laws and regulations, we offer you the expertise and support needed to ensure a smooth and efficient probate application. Don’t let uncertainty hinder your progress—call our law firm today at 602-443-4888 and let us help you navigate the probate process with confidence.


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.