How Probate Laws Work in Alaska

If you have a probate case in Alaska, there is some specific information you should know. First, the probate laws in every state can vary greatly. What works in one state may not work in another, and deadlines and time restrictions must be followed for the probate process to be completed.

At its very basic, probate is the legal way of making sure a deceased person’s wishes are legally carried out and that their final debts and taxes are paid. You only have so long to start the process, but there is no specific end date.

Is Probate Required in Alaska?

Probate is required in Alaska if the deceased owned property that does not automatically transfer to someone else and to handle claims against the estate of the deceased. Probate is also used when beneficiaries or heirs disagree over the estate assets, or even for other reasons, such as appointing a guardian of a minor child special needs adult.

How do you Avoid Probate in Alaska?

Perhaps the easiest way to avoid probate in Alaska is with estate planning. The probate process can take a long time to complete. In some cases, the process may complete in as little as a few months, but in other instances, such as when the will or its provisions are contested, the process may take years. You can file a living trust to avoid probate. With a living trust, you can assign benefits to your heirs before your death, and those assets are transferred when you die.

Can an Executor of an Estate in Alaska Be Compensated?

One of the most asked questions about being the executor of an estate is whether the executor receives pay. Typically, yes, an executor of an estate can be compensated for any costs or fees tied to the administration of the estate, and even for the time they spend working on the administration of the estate. The fees are paid to the executor from the estate.

How Much Does an Executor get paid in Alaska?

In Alaska, an executor is paid a “reasonable” fee for handling the tasks and obligations of probate. The executor may also be reimbursed for expenses incurred. The executor may be paid in a lump sum, percentage of estate assets, or with property. If the fees are defined in the will, the executor must either choose a reasonable fee or accept the payment laid out in the will before they are appointed. Keep in mind, the payments are considered taxable income and must be reported.

How Long Does Probate Take in Alaska?

How long probate takes in Alaska is typically anywhere between months to years, depending on whether there are difficulties and whether the process is formal or informal. Informal probate is the most common process, and it generally takes about a year if everything goes smoothly, but some may last years, especially if there are difficulties.

Do all Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Alaska

Not all property will have to go through the probate process in Alaska, and if you have an attorney help you plan your estate and create a living trust, you can keep most of your assets out of probate. Bank accounts and insurance policies that are payable upon death will not have to be probated. When rights of survivorship are assigned to jointly held properties like homes and other real estate, they too can bypass probate. Some states even allow certain assets and property to pass to a spouse.

Does a Will Have to be Probated in Alaska?

Yes, a will has to be probated in Alaska to ensure the wishes of the deceased are fulfilled. But there are two probate processes in Alaska, an informal and formal process. To qualify for the informal process, it must be less than three years since the person died, you have the original will, and there are no disputes.

How Long do you Have to File Probate After Death in Alaska?

How long you have to file probate after death in Alaska is not explicitly set in stone; however, some things need to be done within a specific time frame. For example, you will need to get copies of the Death Certificate as soon as possible, but it can take weeks. Open probate with the court in the judicial district of the residence where the deceased lived as soon as practical after the date of death.

Settling an Estate in Alaska

The steps to settling an estate in Alaska is like the process in other states and involves core steps that must be followed:

There are several things you should be aware of, including that the costs of probate will come out of the estate, but if there is not enough money to pay them, the executor of the will or its heirs will have to pay them before probate can be settled. During probate, none of an estate may be sold, used, or distributed until the probate process is completed, nor does the executor control the assets.

Probate Court in Alaska

The probate court in Alaska has full self-service resources for anyone who is involved in the probate process, including Personal Representatives. The court provides information on the steps involved in probate in Alaska as well as what you should do immediately following death, the obligations of the personal representative, and collecting personal property. More can be learned about the self-help tools at

Probate Code in Alaska

Whether you are currently involved in probate or are planning your estate, you need to know and understand the key laws specific to formal and informal probate, small estates, and minor children. More information about these key Alaska statutes can be found at