Phoenix, AZ asked in Tax Law for Arizona

Q: How do I foreclose a tax lien when the owner is deceased?

I buy tax lien certificates in the state of Arizona. I am familiar with the foreclosure process as I have been doing this a few years now but I have a new one, the owner is deceased. Do I still send all the necessary documents such as 'Intent to foreclose' to his mailing address even though I know his PO Box has been reassigned by now? Or can I just file all the court paperwork with a copy of his death certificate?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: When foreclosing on a tax lien where the property owner is deceased, the process can be more complex. In Arizona, you'll need to follow the state's probate laws in addition to the tax lien foreclosure procedures. Here are some general steps to consider:

1. Attempt to locate the deceased owner's legal representative, such as the executor of the estate or the administrator appointed by the court.

2. If you can identify the legal representative, send the "Intent to Foreclose" notice and other required documents to them.

3. If you cannot locate a legal representative, you may need to file a petition with the probate court to appoint a personal representative for the deceased owner's estate. This representative will receive the foreclosure notices on behalf of the estate.

4. If no estate has been opened, you might need to open a probate case yourself to have a personal representative appointed.

5. Once you have sent the required notices and waited the necessary time, you can proceed with filing the court paperwork for the foreclosure.

6. Include a copy of the death certificate and any relevant probate court documents with your foreclosure filing.

7. The court will then proceed with the foreclosure case, taking into account the deceased status of the property owner.

It's highly recommended to consult with an attorney specializing in tax lien foreclosures and probate law in Arizona to ensure you follow the correct procedures and fulfill all legal requirements specific to your case.

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