How Probate Laws Work in Arizona

If you recently lost a loved one, you must deal with all of their assets and debts. You will need to go through probate to get the estate taken care of, so you can move on with your life. You may have questions about this process and wonder how long it will take.
Probate is a legal process that goes through the local courts in the county where the deceased person lived. It allows the court to oversee the dispersal of assets to make sure the wishes of the deceased are honored and that the state laws are followed. While probate is similar in every state, deadlines and specific details may be different in Arizona. You need to know these details to ensure probate is handled correctly.

Is Probate Required in Arizona?

Probate is required in Arizona unless the decedent has a trust or listed beneficiaries for all assets. There is one exception to this rule, which is for estates with personal property valued at less than $75,000 and real property under $100,000. In this case, it is known as a small estate. The family would need to submit an affidavit to the court showing the assets and a copy of the will. Once the court grants the transfer of property to the heirs, the process is completed. Any property held in joint tenancy will automatically transfer to the surviving owner without the need to go through probate. This also includes community property with the right of survivorship. Real estate in Arizona may transfer to a beneficiary with a transfer on death deed.

How Do You Avoid Probate in Arizona?

It is possible to avoid probate if you plan carefully. A living trust allows you to avoid probate when the owner of the property dies because the title of the property has transferred to the trust. All assets in the trust automatically transfer to the name of the beneficiary from the trust. It is viewed as an entity separate from the deceased person. You can also designate beneficiaries of certain assets, ensuring they transfer without going through probate. Examples include life insurance policies, retirement accounts and even vehicles and bank accounts which have some designated as payable on death.

How Much Does an Executor Get Paid in Arizona?

The courts will determine a reasonable fee for the executor or personal representative based on the Arizona Rules of Probate Procedure. This takes into account general factors for compensation and fee guidelines. Each case is determined individually based on circumstances along with consistent guidelines for compensation. The court is allowed to put more or less weight on any factors in the situation. If a professional is hired to act as executor, they are paid on an hourly rate.

Can an Executor of an Estate in Arizona Be Compensated?

According to Arizona probate laws, the executor or personal representative of an estate is entitled to compensation for their services. Rule 32 states that the order which appoints someone to act as a representative must include any applicable terms for compensation.

How Long Does Probate Take in Arizona?

The timeline for probate can vary in Arizona based on the size of the estate and any disputes over the will. It can take months or even years in some cases. The minimum time is around five months. The personal representative has up to 30 days to notify inheritors once probate has been opened. During this time, they must also publish a notice in a local newspaper for three weeks and mail notices to any creditors they are aware of. The creditors have up to four months to make a claim against the estate. However, known creditors who received a mailed notice have up to 60 days from the date of the notice to make a claim even if it goes beyond the four months.

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Arizona?

All estates must go through some type of probate in Arizona unless the assets are placed in a trust or have beneficiaries for automatic transfer. However, the type of probate will vary based on size of the estate and the amount of debt the estate has. It may be formal or informal probate, with the informal process taking much less time to complete.

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Arizona?

Yes, a will must be probated even if the estate doesn’t have to go through probate. When the assets can pass automatically to the heirs, the court will provide an affidavit for such an action. However, they will need to ensure it follows the provisions of the will.

Settling an Estate in Arizona

Settling an estate through probate in Arizona can be quite a lengthy process. However, the basic steps are simple and straightforward. They are pretty much the same in every state.
  • The first step is to file the will and a petition for probate with the county court where the deceased person lived or where they had property if they lived out of state.
  • A personal representative is appointed by the court, which is usually the person named in the will.
  • The personal representative will locate all the assets and complete an inventory, which includes the estimated value of the items.
  • The personal representative must provide notice to all creditors and pay any debts owed. This includes filing tax returns and paying taxes.
  • The final step is to distribute the assets to the heirs and have probate closed.

How Long Do You Have to File Probate After Death in Arizona?

According to Arizona Code 14-3108, probate must be filed within two years of the person’s death. There are a few exceptions to this deadline, including timelines for contesting a will or when a previous proceeding has been dismissed.

Probate Court in Arizona

The court that will handle the probate process for an estate is the county court where the deceased person lived. If they lived in another state, it will be the county where their property was located.

Probate Code in Arizona

Arizona has its own set of laws governing probate in the state. You can refer to Arizona Revised Statute, Title 14 https://www.azleg.gov/arsDetail/?title=14 for the standards and regulations.

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