When a person passes away, their belongings will need to be managed and distributed to their beneficiaries. In some cases, the court will need to appoint a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This person will be responsible for distributing all property belonging to the estate and paying off all debts incurred. This process is referred to as probate, and can occur even if the decedent died with a will in place.
Trust and probate administration can be complicated, but Arizona law does its best to make things easier for grieving families. In Arizona, there are three forms of probate: informal, formal and supervised. Informal probate often does not require much court supervision. The decedent’s spouse, adult children, siblings, parents and other select individuals may file for an informal probate proceeding. An Arizona Superior Court proceeding will take place, with a judge or clerk of the court present to handle the process. If the decedent’s estate is valued at less than $100,000 in real estate or less than $75,000 in personal property, Arizona law may allow you to skip probate and instead undergo another informal process known as small estate administration. This process is often much simpler than probate.
In cases in which there is controversy surrounding the will, personal representative or heirs, there may be a more formal proceeding. The case will be brought in front of a judge multiple times to resolve the issues that arise regarding the distribution of the decedent’s estate.
The most traditional form of probate is supervised probate, in which the court handles all aspects of the process. The court will open the estate and appoint the estate’s personal representative. The judge will also resolve any issues that arise during the estate administration process and conduct hearings when necessary. With supervised probate, the judge on your case will assume a number of responsibilities throughout the process and oversee all proceedings.
It can be difficult to decide which form of probate is right for you without guidance from an attorney. Before taking action, you may benefit from consulting with an estate planning attorney who is knowledgeable regarding Arizona probate laws.
Source: FindLaw, “Arizona Probate Laws,” accessed on Dec. 17, 2017