Learn About Arizona Probate Laws
Arizona probate laws apply when someone dies with or without a Last Will and Testament and/or a Revocable or Irrevocable Living Trust. The purpose of a probate is to gather a person’s assets and debts, to manage those assets and debts during the probate process, and to ultimately “settle” the person’s estate by paying his or her debts and, ultimately, distributing the person’s remaining assets to his or her heirs.
Personal Representatives in an Arizona Probate
The court must appoint someone to be responsible for handling the estate. If the person who passed away had a Will and/or a Trust, the person listed in the Will as the Personal Representative or the person listed as the Executor in the Living Trust will be appointed to handle the management and ultimate distribution of the estate.
Some people designate more than one person to act as their Personal Representatives and/or Executors. In such cases, the court will appoint the individuals listed in the Will or Living Trust to work as the Personal Representatives or Executors. If the person passed away without a Will or Living Trust, the court will appoint a Personal Representative to handle the affairs of the estate.
Purpose of a Probate Case in Arizona
The purpose of probate is to ensure creditors claims are paid and to ensure heirs receive their share of the estate. The distribution of assets listed in a Will and/or Living Trust controls the distribution of the estate. Assets divided in a Living Trust can actually be distributed by the Trustee and may avoid probate of some or all of the estate.
If someone dies without a Will or Living Trust, Arizona laws make legally binding assumptions as to how that person would have wanted their estate divided depending upon whether the person, for example, was married or single, had children or had no children. Such distributions are controlled by Arizona statutes.
Closing an Arizona Probate Case
At some point, the person appointed to manage the estate will be ready to provide the court with a plan for the final payment of the estate’s debts and the distribution of the remaining assets to the heirs of the state. The probate action ends when the court approves the final plan for distribution; assuming an heir or other interested party does not object to the distribution.
Types of Probate Cases in Arizona
Most states, including Arizona, have adopted the Uniform Probate Code. The Uniform Probate Code was created by the American Bar Association in hopes that the various states would adopt a set of statutes that were similar from state to state. In Arizona’s version of the Uniform Probate Code, a probate may be formal or informal and may be supervised or unsupervised.
Most probate cases in Arizona are unsupervised informal probate proceedings. These require little involvement from the court. A supervised and formal probate would occur if an estate is highly contested and requires more direct court supervisions.
Using a Probate Attorney in an Arizona Probate Case
We recommend you work with an Arizona probate attorney if you believe you need to probate a family member’s estate. In many cases, the fees charged by the attorney will be much less than you may expect; particularly if you are willing to handle most of the estate administration yourself under the supervision of your probate attorney. Those fees may increase if you want the law firm to handle most or all of the estate administration.
Call the experienced Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona probate attorneys at (480)305-8300 at Hildebrand Law, PC to learn more about probate in Arizona.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about Arizona probate laws to ensure everyone has access to information about probate in Arizona. Chris is an attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona legal experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a probate proceeding should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through in an Arizona probate.