Probate Administration

Home 9 Practice Areas 9 Probate Law Services 9 Probate Administration

Probate Administration

Probate administration refers to a series of legal processes that unfold after an individual’s death involving the management and distribution of an estate. The general term “probate” is often used to refer to probate administration, but the process can also be referred to as “estate administration.” The probate administration process is designed to address outstanding financial obligations and protect assets until they can be distributed among the decedent’s beneficiaries.

Some key aspects of the probate administration process in Arizona include:

Probate Administration

Evaluating the Mandatory Probate Threshold

In Arizona, probate court is only mandatory when the total value of an estate exceeds a threshold set by the state.  If the value of all the personal property of and estate is less than $75,000 or the value of real estate owned by the estate is less than $100,000, you can avoid probate through the use of a Small Estate Affidavit, which involves a process that is usually less involved, less time consuming, and less expensive than probate.  Regardless of the size of the estate in question or the assets involved, a probate lawyer from Gillespie, Shields & Taylor can help you keep the process on track and ensure full compliance with Arizona law.

Testacy vs. Intestacy

A Last Will & Testament allows you to nominate a trusted person to manage your assets after your death.  Under Arizona law, this person is known as a personal representative (i.e. executor or executrix). Within the Will you give specifically direct to whom and how your assets are to be divided and distributed after your death.  A will must be well-written and signed with specific formalities required by Arizona law if your intent is to be not only accurately expressed, but enforceable under law. 

If you die with a Will, you die “Testate” and the Will controls who manages and distributes your assets.  If you die without a Will, you die “Intestate” and Arizona law determines who manages your estate and to whom and in what amounts your assets are distributed.  Generally speaking, your estate will be administered under the same probate procedures whether you die testate or intestate.

Informal Probate and Formal Probate Differences

A probate proceeding can be opened by application to a probate registrar (informal probate) or by petition to a court (formal probate). Informal and formal probate require the same paperwork to be filed; however, with informal probate the registrar reviews the filed documents instead of a judge or commissioner, no advanced notice is given to heirs/beneficiaries or publication of notice is involved, and an appointment of personal representative can be obtained within several days instead of a month or more.  When a Will is filed informally or formally, the registrar or judge must “prove” (validate) the Will. 

Informal Probate Procedure - Will

In an informal proceeding the registrar makes an initial determination as to whether the Will appears to be valid. If the registrar believes the Will is valid, the Will is admitted to probate and a personal representative is appointed, who must shortly thereafter notify all heirs and beneficiaries of the appointment and mail each a copy of the Will.  If the registrar determines that she cannot admit the Will to Probate or appoint a personal representative for any reason, the person seeking to administer the estate must file a Petition and formally probate the Will.  Gillespie. Shields & Taylor will not only help you determine whether to informally or formally probate the decedent’s estate, but also guide you through the process.

Formal Probate Procedure - Will

In a formal probate proceeding, an initial hearing before a judge is scheduled, notice of the hearing is published, and all the heirs/beneficiaries and persons interested in the decedent’s estate are notified of the hearing. Anyone who opposes the Will or the appointment of the person seeking appointment as personal representative may object in writing before the initial hearing or orally at the hearing.  If no one objects, the court takes testimony from the person seeking to be appointed personal representative and usually not only admits the Will to probate, but also appoints the personal representative. If anyone objects, then the probate matter becomes contested and litigation begins.

The personal representative is given “letters testamentary,” which authorizes the person to act on behalf of the estate without court involvement. The personal representative is required to follow Arizona law in administering and distributing the estate.

Informal and Formal Probate Procedure – No Will

Unfortunately, many individuals die “intestate” or without a valid Will.  The probate process for intestate matters are substantially the same as outlined above, except that no Will exists, so no Will needs to be proved (validated). When no will exists, the Court uses Arizona law to choose and appoint a personal representative based upon priorities established by statute.  The court assures that estate assets are distributed according to statute rather than according to the decedent’s wishes. When an informal application is made, the registrar makes the appointment of a personal representative if she believes that everything is in order and that no judge/commissioner appears to be required. The registrar issues a statement of appointment that must be mailed to all heirs/beneficiaries shortly thereafter.  If the registrar is unable to appoint a personal representative for any reason, a petition must be filed for formal probate and all the procedures required in a formal probate proceeding as explained above.

Appointment of Personal Representative

Whether an individual is appointed a personal representative of an estate informally or formally, he or she is issued letters testamentary (sometimes called letters of personal representative), which authorize the personal representative to act on behalf of the estate and its heirs.  The personal representative becomes a fiduciary with duties that require the following of not only the terms of the Will, if a Will exists, but also Arizona law.  Gillespie, Shields & Taylor diligently and effectively work with you to administer the estate efficiently, effectively, and attempt to mitigate or eliminate your exposure to personal liability.

 Gillespie, Shields & Taylor Probate Law at a Glance

Probate Law Overview   |   Probate Law Administration   |   Probate Law Litigation   |   Estate Planning   |   Probate Counseling & Probate Mediation/Arbitration

Your Steadfast Advocates in AZ Probate Court

Gillespie, Shields & Taylor: Your Steadfast Advocates in AZ Probate Court

Probate law doesn’t need to be a confusing and stressful ordeal. With Gillespie, Shields & Taylor on your side, you can focus on living your life while we take care of the tedious legal details and keep your probate case on track for a positive outcome. Even if complexities like trust litigation or disputes among heirs should arise, we stand ready to offer powerful, effective legal solutions designed to meet your needs. Contact our offices today for a no-pressure consultation.

Your Probate Law Team

At Gillespie, Shields & Taylor we have over 27 years of experience in Trust and Probate Administration Law. Probate and Trust Administration can be a complicated process which involves many different legal strategies. Probate litigation can be even more disconcerting, especially if family animosity is involved. We effectively represent you and strive to keep stress between family members to a minimum. We will carefully guide you through all the legal requirements to help resolve all the legal issues.

Wayne H. Taylor

Wayne is a personable, experienced, down-to-earth attorney, who listens carefully to his clients’ needs and works tirelessly with them towards the achievement of their reasonable legal goals. As he sees it, Wayne’s duty as an attorney is to use his legal knowledge to make life a little fairer for his clients.

Learn More About Wayne

Consult with Wayne

“Mr. Taylor’s compassionate and experienced approach to estate and trust administration was a blessing during a challenging time. He helped us achieve excellent results. If you’re looking for a great attorney – look no further.”

Eloisa Kewley

5 Star Google Review, September 26, 2023

“Awesome! Everyone we met at the office was friendly and helpful. Our lawyer was patient, knowledgeable and spoke clearly where you actually understood the law! Highly recommend Wayne Taylor.”

Mame Harrop

5 Star Google Review, September 27, 2023

“We needed a probate/trust litigation lawyer who could handle our complicated case. We found Wayne Taylor, thank goodness! His dedication to our case was clear from day one. Thanks to his efforts, our dispute was resolved quickly and without a lot of stress.”

Sophronia McInich

5 Star Google Review, September 25, 2023


“I found Wayne Taylor to be a highly zealous and dedicated lawyer in my trust litigation case. His hard work and experience yielded great results. I am extremely satisfied. Thanks Wayne.”

Sena Widner

5 Star Google Review, September 25, 2023



Request a Consultation

Our intake specialist will contact you

Insightful Probate Law Articles

It is said that ‘knowledge is power.” Our attorneys draw upon their knowledge of the law and their case experience to empower others with timely, practical and relevant posts and articles.

Request a Consultation

Our intake specialist will contact you

Pin It on Pinterest