The probate process in Arizona has been simplified to what is commonly an "informal probate".

Even though the steps seem simplified the reality is matters can arise that take time to complete. Informal probates that are both common and moderate in character and cost can be completed within 8 months although contested matters and other delays could involve additional time to  complete.

NOTICE TO INTERESTED PARTIES
Beneficiaries and family members are directly notified. In rare instances if a beneficiary cannot be located notification by publication can occur.
INVENTORY OF ASSETS
After the appointment of the personal representative an inventory of assets of the estate is normally completed in 90 days. Not all assets pass through a probate.
CREDITOR NOTIFICATIONS
Direct notice must be provided to all known creditors and publication of notice is provided to unknown creditors.
GOVERNMENTAL NOTIFICATIONS
The most common governmental agencies that are required to be notified is the Internal Revenue Service, The United States Social Security Administration and the Arizona Department of Revenue. Estates having assets exceeding 5.4 million dollars may have tax liabilities.
SETTLEMENT OF CREDITOR CLAIMS
Claims of creditors must be settled by the personal representative and are typically paid from the residuary assets of the estate.
FINAL ACCOUNTING
A full accounting of the administration of the estate is reported to the beneficiaries and court.
DISTRIBUTION OF REMAINING ASSETS
Specific bequests are distributed first and any remaining residuary assets are then distributed.
CLOSING THE PROBATE
This is when the personal representative is discharged from his duties and the probate file is closed with the court.
AFFIDAVIT OF TRANSFER
Starting at $1,200
AS NEEDED ASSISTANCE
Starting at $499
ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION
Starting at $245/hr

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

Does probate occur any time a person dies?

No, in Arizona many estates have assets that easily be transferred by affidavit without the need to open a probate estate.   And a trust can be established which holds title to property and assets and transfers directly to named beneficiaries upon the death of the decedent without the need to open an estate.


What are specific bequests or specific gifts in an estate?

These are the gifts of specific property which are specified in the will to be distributed to specific persons.  Typically, a will provides to for specific items or property to go to certain persons with the balance of the estate to be gifted either equally or in percentage shares to a group of beneficiaries named in the will.


Does the estate have to file the last tax return for the decedent?

Yes, one of the duties of the personal representative is to file the last tax return of the decedent with the state and federal government.  He is also responsible to file fiduciary tax returns reporting income of the estate while it is being administered.


Do I have to serve as personal representative?

No, simply because a person is nominated under the will does not mean he must serve. He can elect to resign and the alternate named under the will would serve. And any person claiming the right to serve could petition the court to be appointed.


What are some common assets that do not go through a probate?

Real property held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, investment and savings accounts with payment upon death or beneficiary designations, and IRA accounts, 401K accounts and pension accounts with beneficiary designations.  And life insurance commonly passes free of probate directly to the named insurance beneficiaries.


What is residuary assets in an estate?

Any assets of the estate that remain after creditors are paid and specific gifts are distributed.


Can a beneficiary or interested person of the estate question how the estate is being administered?

Yes, if there are questions regarding how the personal representative his handling the estate a beneficiary or other interested person can object to the administration process by filing a petition which will call the objection to the attention of the probate judge to review?


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