Our Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Probate in Arizona

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by | Nov 30, 2022 | Probate Law

If you are someone who is new to the state of Arizona, or if you have never had to go through the probate process before, then you may be wondering what exactly it is. This guide is designed to give you a basic understanding of probate in Arizona, from start to finish. We will cover everything from what probate is, to how the process works, and finally what happens once it is all over. So whether you are thinking about needing probate services yourself one day, or if you are just curious about the process, we hope this guide provides some helpful information for you!

What Is Probate?

Probate is the process of transferring ownership of a deceased person’s assets and liabilities to their rightful heirs. This may include things like real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, jewelry, collections, and more. In Arizona, probate is typically handled in court by either an Executor or Administrator appointed by the court.

How Does Probate Work In Arizona?

The probate process in Arizona involves filing a petition with the court, providing notice to creditors and other interested parties, gathering and appraising assets, paying any necessary taxes or debts, distributing remaining assets according to the will (if one is present) or the state’s intestacy laws (if there is no will), and closing the estate. The probate process can take a few weeks or months, depending on the complexity of the estate and any challenges that may arise during the process.

What Happens After Probate?

Once all assets have been distributed, creditors have been paid, and the court has approved the closing of the estate, it is time to wrap things up. The Executor or Administrator must file a final accounting with the court, as well as any other necessary paperwork. Once this has been done, all remaining assets are removed from probate, and the title is transferred to their intended recipients.

Key Probate Terms You Need To Know

Probate can seem like a complex and intimidating process, but understanding some of the key terms can help you better understand what is happening. Here are just a few of the important terms to remember when dealing with probate in Arizona:

  • Executor: The person appointed by the court who will be responsible for carrying out all aspects of the probate process.
  • Administrator: The person appointed by the court if there is not an Executor or if one cannot be found.
  • Personal Representative: A generic term used to refer to either an Executor or Administrator.
  • Letters Testamentary/Letters of Administration: Official documentation that proves the authority of the Personal Representative.
  • Inventory: A document that lists all assets and liabilities of the estate.
  • Heirs: Those individuals who are legally entitled to inherit the deceased person’s property.

Why Is Probate Confusing?

Probate can be a complicated and confusing process, especially when dealing with large estates or complex family dynamics. There are many rules and regulations that need to be followed in order for the process to go smoothly. Additionally, probate can take months or even years to complete depending on the complexity of the estate. It is important to have an experienced probate attorney on your side to ensure that everything is done correctly and in accordance with the law.

What Assets Can Skip Probate Court?

In some cases, certain assets may not need to go through the probate process. These types of assets are typically referred to as “non-probate” assets and include things like life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and joint bank accounts. For these types of assets, ownership can be immediately transferred upon death without going through the court process.

What Assets Must Go Through The Probate Court?

Any asset that does not have an immediate beneficiary or is not a “non-probate” asset, must go through the probate court before it can be transferred to its rightful heirs. This includes things like real estate, cars, collections, jewelry, and other personal items.

Understanding probate in Arizona can be a daunting task, but with some basic knowledge and the help of an experienced attorney, you can navigate the process with ease. Knowing what assets are subject to probate and which ones can skip it is essential to ensuring that everything goes smoothly. With this guide in hand, you will have a better understanding of how the probate process works and how to best protect your loved ones’ assets.

Ultimately, if you are dealing with a probate case in Arizona, it is important to seek the help of an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process. They can ensure that everything is done correctly and that all legal requirements are met. This will help make sure that your loved one’s assets are handled in the best manner possible.

Are You Looking For A Probate Attorney You Can Trust?

The attorneys at GillespieShields are well-versed in various legal fields, ranging from probate cases to civil suits, employment disputes and family law. Our estate planning and probate law attorneys have 27 years of experience in estate planning and probate law. We believe in working with clients to resolve their reasonable legal goals. We pay close attention to detail and take the time to listen to our clients’ needs. People often do not take the time or make the effort to plan for disability and death. Many of the issues that arise can be avoided, or at least managed, with a bit of time and effort. Successful estate planning requires not only the knowledge and experience of an attorney but also work on the client’s part—especially when it comes to funding trusts and maintaining the designations of beneficiaries. We believe our clients deserve personal attention and estate plans customized to their finances, family situation, and preferences.

We also have ample experience handling matters of probate. Probate litigation processes can become lengthy and unpleasant, so hiring an experienced attorney who can handle such matters gracefully and with skill is necessary. At GillespieShields, we believe that a nuanced understanding of probate law can make all the difference in a difficult case. Contact us today for your consultation!


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