Probate in Arizona
Frequently Asked Questions About Probate in Arizona If you live in the state of Arizona or have relatives here, you need to learn about the laws that govern the place you or your loved ones call home. That means learning about the probate process in the state of Arizona, something that can make your life a lot easier down the line. The subject or probate can be very complicated, but it does not have to be. Once you learn the basics, you will have a better understanding of how probate works in Arizona, and what impact the probate process may have on you and your family. Here are 10 of the most frequently asked questions about the probate process in the state of Arizona.
How long does probate take in Arizona?
The length of the probate process will vary depending on a number of factors. Those factors include the type of probate (formal, informal or supervised) and the nature of the estate. In general, you can expect the probate process to take anywhere from five months to two years. For a simple probate in which the heirs agree and there is no fighting, the probate process could be completed in a matter of months. For more complicated situations where there are disagreements about assets, issues with taxes and problems with the heirs, the probate process could stretch out for several years.
When is probate required in Arizona?
Probate is not always required in the state of Arizona. Certain assets, such as life insurance proceeds, IRA accounts, and 401(k) accounts, generally pass from the deceased to their heirs through the beneficiary designation process. As long as the beneficiary forms have been completed and the beneficiary has been designated, those assets should pass without probate.
Arizona law also allows small estates to pass without probate under some situations. If the value of real property is less than or equal to $100,000, probate may not be required. Personal property less than or equal to $75,000 may also pass without probate. For real estate of more than $100,000 and personal holdings of more than $75,000, probate will generally be required.
Will Probate Be Necessary?
Probate may not be necessary under all situations, but it is important for the heirs to contact an estate attorney instead of simply assuming the assets will pass as intended. The necessity of probate will be determined by a number of factors, including the value of real estate holdings and personal property. Currently the state of Arizona may waive probate requirements for small estates of $100,000 or less in real property and $75,000 and less in personal property. If the estate left by your loved one is under that amount, you may be able to avoid probate and receive the assets directly.
How to Avoid Probate in Arizona?
If you want to avoid probate, you need to plan ahead. The creation of a revocable living trust can help you avoid probate, but the document must be properly funded and properly executed. In order to avoid probate, the individual must transfer all of their property into the named trust. Once the Revocable Living Trust is in place, the assets it contains can pass to their heirs without going through probate.
What is Informal Probate?
Informal probate is typically a shorter process than formal probate, making it preferable in many ways. Informal probate is typically used for estates where there are no disagreements and the heirs are all getting along. You will probably not be able to use informal probate if the will is contested or there are disagreements over the distribution of assets.
How Do I Make My Will Valid in Arizona?
In order to be valid in the state of Arizona, your will must meet a number of requirements. The state of Arizona requires that all wills be in writing, and that they be signed by either the decedent or the decedent’s direction. In the state of Arizona, wills must also be signed by two witnesses.
Are There Different Types of Probate Proceedings?
Yes. The state of Arizona allows for three different kinds of probate proceedings – informal, formal and supervised. Informal probate is the simplest, and least expensive, but it is reserved for cases where there are no disagreements among heirs or issues with the distribution of assets. The formal probate process may be necessary in cases where there are disagreements about the will or the distribution of assets. Formal probate typically includes motions, hearings, depositions and other legal proceedings, and it is generally costlier and more time-consuming than informal probate.
Supervised probate is a hybrid of formal and informal, with a judge overseeing the process and signing off on things like the sale of property and the distribution of proceeds and personal property. Supervised probate typically takes longer than an informal procedure but not as much time as formal probate.
Who is a Personal Representative?
A personal representative is an individual who is authorized to act on behalf of someone else. Under Arizona law, a personal representative is entitled to reasonable compensation. The will may specify that reasonable compensation, but if the amount is not specified, the court may authorize payment based on the value of the assets in the estate, the time and skills required to do the work, fees paid for similar services and the expertise level of the authorized representative.
What is a Supervised Probate?
Supervised probate is a mix of formal and informal probate proceedings. While supervised probate is similar to the informal kind, there are some key differences. One of the key differences is that in supervised probate, a judge will oversee certain activities, like the sale of real estate and the distribution of personal property. The judge will have to sign off on these activities, and the probate process will not be completed until that signoff is completed.
What is a Formal Probate?
Formal probate is typically used in circumstances where the heirs or not getting along or there are disagreements or ambiguities regarding the status of the will and the distribution of personal property. As the name suggests, formal probate closely resembles a formal trial, with court proceedings, motions, hearings, depositions, and discovery. In some cases, a trial may even be required to complete the formal probate process.
The subject of probate can seem mysterious to an outsider, but understanding the basics is simpler than you might think. Whether you live in the state of Arizona or are handling the estate of an Arizona-based loved one, it is a good idea to become familiar with the probate process. Whether the probate process in question is formal, informal or supervised, a basic understanding of the terms and requirements will make your life, and the lives of your loved ones, a lot easier.
Call our probate and estate planning attorneys at (480)947-4339 if you have any questions regarding probate of an estate in Arizona.