Written by attorney Ryan Matthew Scharber

What Is a Personal Representative?

In Arizona, a personal representative (known in many states as an executor) is the person or entity appointed by the Court to administer the estate and assets of someone who has died (a decedent). In other words, the personal representative has the responsibility to ensure that the decedent’s affairs are taken care of after death, in accordance with the decedent’s Last Will and Testament (Will), if one exists, or in accordance with state law if the decedent died without a Will.

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Definitions: 1] For this purpose, the “value” of the real estate is based on its assessed value for real property tax purposes, not its “fair market value,” less any liens or encumbrances against the real property. For example, if the assessed value of a house for property tax purposes is $200,000 and the property has mortgages against it totaling $125,000, the “net equity” for purposes of whether a probate is required is $75,000  or $25,000 under the $100,000 limit. [2]An “heir” is a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person's death. [3] A “devisee” is a person who receives a gift of real property by a Will. [4] The assets of the entity itself do not become part of the probate estate. Instead, the Decedent’s ownership interest in the entity is personal property that would go through the probate process if titled in Decedent’s name alone at death. [5] As a practical matter, so long as the monthly mortgage payment continues to get paid, the mortgage lender will generally not foreclose on the house. Once the house is distributed to whoever is to receive it, the mortgage lender may press to have the house refinanced but will typically take no action so long as the monthly mortgage payment is made.

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