If you had a loved one that recently passed you may find yourself confronted with a strange new word; Probate. In each state, probate will entail slightly different things and follow their own process. In this article, we will focus on Arizona Probate and answer four common questions: What is probate? What is an informal probate? What is a formal probate? Where can you find help?
What is Probate
Simply put, Probate is the court-supervised process necessary to distribute the deceased person’s assets. An Arizona probate is necessary when real estate is valued at $100,000 or more and personal property is valued at $75,000 or more. During the probate process, a personal representative will be appointed. This person will have the authority to gain access to the property and distribute funds. They are responsible to the court for their actions.
There are two subcategories of probate; formal and informal. Below we will briefly go over the differences between the two.
Qualifying for an Informal Probate
To qualify for an informal probate the must be no contestation as to the validity of the will. According to Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 14-2502, a valid Arizona Will must include:
- The deceased’s signature
- The signatures of two witnesses that were unrelated to the deceased and did not benefit from the will. Please note that a notary does not count as a witness.
An informal probate does not involve any court hearings. To start the process and keep it going you just need to file the necessary documents with the court. You will receive approval in the form of a signature on your paperwork from the Probate Registrar.
When You Need to File for a Formal Probate
A formal Arizona probate is necessary when there is some form of contestation revolving around the case. This could mean there are two conflicting Wills or there is a conflicting codicil. A formal probate is also necessary if there is a question about the validity of the Will. This would include allegations of fraud, or undue influence, the omission of a spouse or minor beneficiary, or failing to name a personal representative in the Will.
A formal probate is also necessary if the Will does not meet Arizona’s statutory requirements. This means the Will cannot be in someone else’s handwriting, there must be two witnesses, and it must be the original copy. Having only a photocopy of the Will automatically means a formal probate is necessary.
A formal probate is court supervised and requires you to attend hearings. It is much more involved than an informal probate and it may take you awhile to even be appointed as the personal representative.
Where Can You Find Help?
There are two different places where you can find help with your Arizona probate. First, you can use an Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer. A CLDP is certified by the Arizona Supreme Court to prepare legal documents. However, they cannot give legal advice. A CLDP may be a good choice if you are dealing with an informal probate.
Secondly, you can use a probate attorney. If you are dealing with a formal probate or a complicated informal probate it is best that you contact an attorney. They will be able to give you the legal advice you need and they can represent you in court if necessary. Be sure to do your research and find someone to help you that is experienced and reputable.
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