In general, if an Arizona routine probate is required, and there is nothing “unusual” in the situation, you can expect the process to take a minimum of five months and up to two years. Most of the routine probates are finished and closed within 6 months. But, there is GOOD NEWS! In the informal process (meaning a routine probate), a qualified person can be named as the Personal Representative of the Estate immediately upon filing the proper documents with Superior Court and approval by the Probate Registrar. Once appointed Personal Representative (PR), the PR can start administering the estate by paying debts, placing property for sale, gathering assets, gaining access to the deceased’s bank accounts, etc. In theory, the PR can immediately start distributing assets to the rightful beneficiaries. But, caution should be used. In an Arizona probate process, creditors will have up to 4 months after the first publication of notice to creditors to file a claim against the estate. A PR should be very comfortable there are no outstanding debts before distributing assets to heirs.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at (602) 523-0100.
Arizona Legal EASE and Arizona Probate Services are certified legal document preparers. This post’s purpose is to provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.
Every state has statutes regarding probate matters. In Arizona, probate is done/filed in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death. If the decedent lived out of state and happens to own property in Arizona, the probate documents are filed in the county where the property is located. The “how-to’s” of probate vary greatly depending on the situation. For example, if the decedent had a valid Will at the time of death, an informal probate with a Will can be done.
An informal probate is a straightforward process within Probate Court. It is possible to prepare your own probate documents, but fair warning, there are many documents and it is very important the timing and process be followed. For this reason, most people prefer to have someone else prepare and file the documents. There are two options for probate document preparation and filing services: Hire a Probate Attorney, or work with an Arizona certified legal document preparer (i.e. independent paralegal services) who knows Probate.
Here are key steps to starting a probate process:
Determine the date of death.
Order certified copies of the death certificate early as it takes several weeks to obtain them. However, this does not preclude you from going forward with the probate documents and filings.
Determine if the decedent had a Will and locate the ORIGINAL Will. Assuming there is an ORIGINAL Will available, identify who is named as the Personal Representative (Executor).
Obtain the addresses and contact information for each individual or organization the decedent has named in the Will to receive a bequest (gift from the estate).
Start gathering information on the decedent’s estate. For example, value of the home he/she lived in; checking and savings account information; list of cars and approximate value; value of other personal property (investment accounts, home furnishings, personal goods, etc.).
You may not have the exact information but you will probably have enough to get an idea on the value of the estate. This is important as the value of the personal property and/or real property (home, land, buildings, etc.) can make a difference on the documents prepared and filed. For example, in Arizona, if a decedent’s home has a value of $75,000.00 or less, it may be possible to do a Small Estate Transfer of Real Property. Or, if they only have Personal Property and the total value is $50,000 or less, a Small Estate Affidavit may be appropriate.
I won’t go into details about these Small Estate options at this point. That’s a subject for another blog! But, suffice it to say, it is important to have some idea on the value of the estate so that you can talk intelligently to the attorney or to the legal document preparer. Or if you decide to attempt preparing the documents yourself, you will need to know the information in order to obtain the right instructions/process, etc.
IMPORTANT: Even though this blog post deals primarily with Probate with a Will, it is possible to do an informal Probate without a Will. If you have any questions, please contact our office, or stay tuned for a post regarding Probate without a Will.
For more information, please email email@example.com or call the office at (602) 523-0100, or checkout the website at www.arizonaprobateservices.com
Arizona Probate Services is an Arizona certified legal document preparer. This blog’s purpose is to provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.
A Formal Probate proceeding is generally required when a will or estate has contested issues, or there is a reason the probate does not readily fit within the Informal Probate process. In simple terms, a probate judge (in some cases, a Commissioner) ultimately rules on such situations and supervises the administration of the estate. Every now and then, contested issues arise during an Informal Probate and the matter has to be switched to Formal Probate. Generally speaking, an Informal Probate will cost substantially less than a Formal Probate. That’s because Formal Probate is customized to unique situations and does not have set forms or templates, whereas Informal Probate is more standardized.
Most people are not aware that you do not have to hire an attorney to file Formal Probate documents in Arizona. Of course, whether or not to hire an attorney is your decision based on your circumstances. There are, however, certified legal document preparers that are experienced in preparing the documents for Formal Probate. You would represent yourself and speak for yourself at the hearing. People will ask, "what do I say?" or "how do I act?" and the correct response is "tell the truth". Like all court actions, there is a process and requirement for every type action filed. An experienced probate legal document preparer will understand the process and know the required documents.
To our knowledge, there is no such thing as a “Formal Probate Do it Yourself Kit”. Superior Court’s self help center does not provide any information on Formal Probate documents and process. Generally, most people don’t know where to turn so it is natural they proceed with hiring legal counsel.
Formal Probate document preparation and related filing services range around $800 to $1,500, depending on the scope and challenges involved. The court filing fee and outside fees (such as publication) are additional costs. Currently, Maricopa County Superior Court’s filing fee is $251.00. Publication in Maricopa County will run around $37 per publication (typically two times). The court and publicataion fees vary by Arizona County.
Most attorneys will start at $3,500 or more to get started. There may be some attorneys that charge less, but it is uncommon. If you are going to retain legal counsel it is a good idea to interview several lawyers and find one that you are comfortable with and have confidence in. It is very important that you find out exactly what the attorney fees include. For example, are the filing fees and publication costs included? What are additional costs that can be expected?
Any Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at (602) 523-0100
Arizona Probate Services is an Arizona certified legal document preparer – certified by the Arizona Supreme Court. We provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide legal advice or a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.
Probate is the court process that occurs when someone has died. If the deceased person (decedent) had a Will, the Will must be valid in accordance with Arizona state law. If there is no valid Will, then Arizona statutes spell out who inherits the property. and in what order. Every state has “intestate” (i.e. without a Will) statutes and the order of inheritance priority. See links at the end of this blog posting.
Probate does not have to be challenging or overwhelming. The Court has specific documents and deadlines it requires and it is important to meet the court’s requirements. For the most part, it is gathering the decedent’s property (assets) and determining the value; paying the deceased person’s debts; paying applicable taxes; and, distributing the property in accordance with the Will.
Probate, at a minimum, involves paperwork and, in some cases court appearances are required. The Arizona probate court process does not require that you retain a lawyer. That is a decision that you have to make depending on your situation. An experienced Arizona certified legal document preparer can professionally prepare the required documents and even deliver them to the court for filing. You have the potential to save significant dollars by “doing it yourself” through a professional legal document preparer. For example, Arizona Probate Services charges roughly $800.00 (plus outside court/publication fees) for most informal probate document preparation and filing services. Formal Probate documents generally cost more, simply due to the unique nature of every situation.
Links re Arizona Intestate (without a Will) Succession:
AZ Intestate Share Surviving Spouse
AZ Intestate Heirs Other Than Surviving Spouse
Link re “Do It Yourself” probate document preparation services: Probate Legal Document Preparation Services For more information, please email email@example.com or call the office at (602) 523-0100.
Arizona Probate Services is an Arizona certified legal document preparer -- certified by the Arizona Supreme Court. We provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.