At the Law Office of Luke Reynoso, P.L.L.C., we assist clients with all aspects of probate in Arizona. Regardless of the circumstances relating to your loved one’s estate, we ensure that administration of the estate meets all requirements of state law.
Scottsdale probate attorney Luke Reynoso provides services to Arizona clients from our primary office in Scottsdale, as well as from satellite offices in Gilbert, Phoenix, North Phoenix, and Peoria. We serve clients throughout Metro Phoenix and Maricopa County.
Estate Administration in Arizona
Complex state statutes govern distribution of estates of Arizona residents. Probate or probate administration is the process of collecting, reporting, and distributing the property in the estate. Probate takes place in the Superior Court of the county where the deceased person last resided.
Individuals can create an estate plan to avoid probate altogether. However, the existence of a will alone is not sufficient to avoid probate.
Whether probate is necessary and the type of probate required in Arizona depends on several factors:
- The nature of the estate, including whether there is a will or trust and how property in the estate is titled
- The value of the property in the estate
- The circumstances surrounding the estate, including whether there are challenges to a will or trust and whether court supervision of probate is necessary to protect an heir or other party
Property Included in Probate
Only certain assets in the estate go through probate, even when probate is necessary. The following types of property are not included in an estate for probate purposes:
- Property held in joint tenancy, which automatically becomes owned by the survivor (may include a home if owned “with a right of survivorship,” bank account, and other assets)
- Community property with a right of survivorship
- Assets in a living trust
- Assets in Pay-on-Death (POD) accounts (such as bank accounts) and with registered Transfer-on-Death (TOD) forms (such as securities and vehicles), which pass directly to the beneficiary
- Real estate subject to a Transfer-on-Death (TOD) deed
- Assets with designated beneficiaries, such as retirement accounts, annuities, and life insurance policies
If all the decedent’s property and assets fall into the above categories, probate is not required.
Summary Probate for Small Estates
Arizona’s laws establish a simplified summary probate or affidavit procedure for small estates. A small estate is one that includes personal property valued at $75,000 or less and real estate valued at $100,000 or less.
If an estate meets the small estate criteria, the court registrar handles the process for the decedent’s heirs. Appointment of a personal representative for the estate is unnecessary.
Arizona estates that exceed the small estate requirements go through a more structured process. Most Arizona estates go through a process called informal probate.
The Superior Court oversees the informal probate process, which the court registrar handles. A formal court hearing is not required.
The law specifies which individuals may apply for informal probate of an estate. During informal probate of an estate, an executor appointed in the decedent’s will or personal representative appointed by the court handles all the probate details and filings.
Informal probate is a straightforward process, but it involves many specific steps and timeframes for accomplishing the steps. In most cases, the executor or personal representative retains an experienced probate attorney to ensure that the informal probate process occurs in full accordance with the complex requirements of law.
If an heir, beneficiary, creditor, or other interested party disputes an aspect or action relating to administration of an estate, the probate process becomes formal probate. This process does involve a hearing before a judge.
In formal probate, the judge settles disputes relating to the estate about asset distribution, the meaning of provisions in the will, issues relating to creditors, and other matters arising during administration of the estate.
Supervised probate is another type of probate available for Arizona estates. In supervised probate, the judge oversees every aspect of probate administration.
Approval by the court of the personal representative’s actions is necessary throughout the process. Supervised probate occurs when circumstances require court supervision to protect an heir, a creditor, or another interested party.
Talk With an Experienced Scottsdale Probate Attorney
Attorney Luke Reynoso’s more than 10 years of experience in Arizona probate benefits every client. If you lost a loved one and require assistance with probate matters or have questions about administration of the estate, we are here to help.
From our primary office in Scottsdale office and our satellite offices in Gilbert, Phoenix, North Phoenix, and Peoria, the Law Office of Luke Reynoso serves clients throughout Metro Phoenix and Maricopa County.