Probate FAQsProbate FAQs

Probate is a complex legal process and leaves many people confused and with unanswered questions. In this article, we will go over probate FAQs to help guide you along in the process.

What is Probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process that is often necessary to distribute assets after someone passes. It becomes necessary if someone passes with or without a will. Most banks and financial institutions require court approval documents to give you access to assets.

What Is Intestate?

Intestate is a term that refers to someone who passes away without a will. Vice versa, testate is a term that describes someone who passes away with a valid will.

Does a Will Avoid Probate?

A Last Will and Testament is not a probate avoidance document. Instead, a will is actually a probate document. It acts as instructions to the probate court and your personal representative on how to distribute your estate.

What is a Valid Arizona Will?

For a will to be valid in Arizona, it must be signed by the deceased and two witnesses. Additionally, a notary does not count as a witness. Arizona does accept handwritten, or holographic wills. However, if the will does not meet Arizona standards, it will have to go through a formal probate process.

What is an Informal Probate?

Informal probate is the most common probate process in Arizona. In this process, there must be no contestation from heirs or beneficiaries. There are no court hearing or appearances with an informal probate. Approval is gotten through several court filings that can be done in person or through the mail.

What is Formal Probate?

A formal probate is a court-supervised probate. You will have to go to hearings before a judge and typically have check-ins with the same judge. A formal probate is usually necessary if there is an issue with the will’s validity or there is a beneficiary contestation.

How Long Does an Informal Probate Take?

Everyone’s situation is different. If the filing is done through the mail it takes 10-14 days to receive your approval. After you are approved you will need to file a Notice to Creditors by Publication in a local newspaper. That starts a four-month waiting period in which unknown creditors get a chance to come forward. Once that four months is complete, that is the earliest date you can close the probate. But it is important to keep in mind that the average Arizona probate takes a year to complete.

Who Is Responsible for Handling the Probate?

If there is a will, the person listed as a personal representative in the will is responsible for handling the probate. If there is no will, then someone in the Arizona intestate succession is responsible. This could be a spouse, a child, a parent, or a sibling.

Navigating Probate

These probate FAQs are just the tip of the iceberg for the probate process. Before you start, make sure that you understand the process thoroughly so that you can execute your duties responsibility. The superior court has a good training program that can also be beneficial to you in your process. The more you educate yourself the better prepared you will be.

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