What is probate? Probate is the process of settling someone’s estate. The process can be time consuming and confusing, especially when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. There are many filing requirements, deadlines and events that occur in an open probate case that must be attended to and executed properly.
Arizona requires a probate be opened anytime there is more than $100,000 in real property, or $75,000 in personal property, that has not been disposed of either through a Trust or through other estate planning. There are two types of probate cases that can be opened: Informal and Formal. While both follow the same general roadmap and end up at the same destination, they have key, procedural differences.
Informal: An Informal Probate is the mechanism used under the following circumstances;
1. There is an ORIGINAL will (cannot be a copy); or
2. ALL of the beneficiaries are in agreement and submit appropriate waivers; and
3. The location of ALL of the beneficiaries is known;
Once the original will and initial paperwork is filed with the county registrar, there is a review and approval process that takes place. This can take anywhere from one to fourteen days depending upon the backlog in the registrar’s office. If any of these conditions are not met, or if someone objects to the validity of the original will, a formal probate must be opened.
Formal: A Formal probate is the mechanism used when the previously mentioned Informal probate cannot be initiated. The fundamental difference is that the Formal process requires a public hearing, with notice of said hearing to be published in a local newspaper in the county in which the paperwork has been filed. Depending upon the county of filing, hearings can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to be scheduled from the date of filing. During that time, all the assets in the deceased person’s estate are in limbo and “frozen” pending the outcome of the hearing. At the hearing, the initial paperwork will be reviewed by the assigned judicial officer, the proposed Personal Representative may be questioned, and any objections can be raised. This hearing will either result in the appointment of the Personal Representative or litigation to determine the Personal Representative.
Copper Wren Law is committed to providing guidance to you during the difficult time of settling your loved one’s estate, and handling any situation that may arise. We are dedicated to walking with you through the probate process so you are able to focus on what is the most important: your family.