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The Probate process can be confusing and overwhelming. However, Arizona has taken steps to simplify the process for the deceased's personal representative to ensure a smoother transfer of estate assets to the lawful owner. There are three types of probate in Arizona: (1) Informal Probate; (2) Formal Probate; and (3) Supervised Probate. Each process, in descending order, is a more complicated process that requires additional court time and oversight.
In this article, we will focus on the informal process as outlined in the Arizona Revised Statutes §14-3301, including the process of appointing the personal representative.
Who Can Apply for Informal Probate
Most estates that have a valid, uncontested Will can be handled through the informal probate process. The Arizona Revised Statutes provide us with certain requirements for opening an informal probate. First, a qualified person or entity must file an application of informal probate, this includes:
- The surviving spouse of the decedent;
- An adult child, a parent, a brother or a sister of the decedent;
- A person who is an heir of the decedent;
- A person nominated as a personal representative by a probated will or the will for which probate is asked or pursuant to a power conferred by the will;
- If the decedent was a nonresident, any person who is qualified under paragraphs 1 through 4 of this subsection or a personal representative appointed in the state of domicile or the nominee of such personal representative;
- 6. If the decedent was a veteran, the department of veterans' services;
- Forty-five days after the death of the decedent, any creditor; and finally
- If no person is qualified and willing to serve as personal representative, the public fiduciary. (ARS §14-3301(A)).
Preparing and Filing the Application for Appointment
For those that qualify, filing the verified application is easier than with formal probate, but understanding and completing the necessary forms can be quite time consuming and confusing. The applicant also must complete certain required training prior to appointment to learn more about what it means to be a fiduciary of the Estate. The persona applying to become the personal representative will then need to adjoin any other necessary documents, including a copy of the Will, to the application for appointment and file them with the Superior Court.
Steps to Take After Appointment
Once appointed by the Court, the personal representative then has certain actions to perform within the first few days and other actions that must be completed within the next 90 days following appointment. These actions involve things like publishing notice, taking control of estate assets, and creating an itemized listing of estate assets.
As a reminder, and a warning, it is vitally important for the personal representative to follow the informal probate procedure guidelines to ensure that the process moves along smoothly. This will also help to ensure that the personal representative does not violate any fiduciary duty they may have to the Estate or the Devisees (takers under the Will).
Have Additional Questions About the Informal Probate Process?
If you have additional questions, the Superior Court website has resource guides and videos to help the public understand more about the informal probate process. Have additional questions about the informal probate process? Give us a call. We would love to speak with you more about the process and advise you on how we may be able to help you streamline the informal probate process.
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