Arizona Probate Lawyer
Probate is a court controlled process for changing ownership from a decedent to his or her loved ones after death. Probate court is the venue where creditors of a decedent may sue the decedent’s estate for payment of debts owed. Probate is managed by the Decedent’s Personal Representative, who once appointed has a fiduciary duty to properly manage and administer the Estate.
During your first meeting with a probate attorney, you will most likely be asked to provide (1) the original Will; (2) a list of all the estate assets, titles, deeds and bank statements; (3) a complete list of the decedent’s beneficiaries & heirs (and contact information); (4) a list of the estate’s debts and creditors; and if possible (5) a copy of the decedent’s death certificate if it has been released. You may also expect additional documents and information to be requested of you as well.
Our Arizona Probate Lawyers Can Help You Successfully Navigate the Arizona Probate Court System.
- Informal Probate Administration
- Formal Probate Administration
- Contested Probate Administration and Litigation
- Small Estate Administration
- Proof of Authority in Arizona
- Termination of JTWROS = Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship
- Termination of CPWROS = Community Property with Right of Survivorship
- Representation of Beneficiary/Heir
- Representation of Personal Representative
Below We Will Answer Some Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Probate Process.
Does A Will Avoid Probate?
No! Every Last Will and Testament (Simple Will, Testamentary Trust, Holographic Will, etc.) must go through the probate process if a decedent has assets titled in his or her name at death. However, small estate probate rules may apply in some situations.
What If There Is No Will?
If there is no Will, the Estate will be governed under Arizona’s intestate statutes. The government will decide:
- who gets the property left by the one who has passed;
- who is in charge of the Estate;
- who gets to be the guardian and or conservator of any minor children, etc.
Do All The Assets Go Through Probate?
No. The probate process only controls those assets that are titled in the decedent’s individual name at death, or a partial interest owned by the decedent at death (without any survivorship rights by others). There are many non-probate type of assets such as:
- insurance contracts,
- retirement accounts,
- and property held in joint tenancy and/or
- community property with right of survivorship.
However, it is very important to determine whether or not beneficiary designations were properly completed, as some of these assets may actually become probate assets if they do not have proper designations.
How Long Does Probate Take To Complete?
The Arizona Probate Court usually allows 2 years to complete an informal probate administration before the Court will require additional action. The minimum period of time for an informal probate is around 4 months due to various statutory requirements. However, most typical uncontested probates, without complicated assets, creditors or beneficiary problems can usually be completed within 6 to 12 months. Contested probates can take longer than 2 years.
What If I Have Been Named As Executor of an Estate?
If you have been named as the Executor of an Estate you should consult with a qualified probate attorney as soon as you are able. Upon your appointment, you take on a fiduciary role and many important responsibilities and duties, which should not be taken lightly. Failure in such duties could result in estate beneficiaries or other interested persons taking you to court for failing to adhere to and perform your fiduciary responsibilities.