Probate

Probate is a court process to prove that a person’s last will and testament is valid and to have the court enforcing the terms of a will. If there are multiple wills or a will has imperfections, the court will clarify which will should be enforced or clarify how a person’s estate should be administered. If there is no will, then the court will dictate how a person’s final affairs will be settled using the laws of intestacy. Under Arizona law, probate is important to determine who should be the executor of the estate and who should be the beneficiaries of an estate. The executor of an estate is the person who is responsible for collecting estate assets, paying final expenses, and making a final distribution of property. Probate only dictates the distribution of estate assets. An estate asset only includes property that does not have a living co-owner and property that does not have a named beneficiary.

Probate is necessary if either of the two following statements are true:

  • A decedent’s interest in real property (the value of all real estate) exceeds $100,000.00 or;
  • A decedent’s interest in non-real property (the value of all non-real-estate property) exceeds $75,000.00.

Examples:

  • A decedent has 10¬†accounts all of which have a value of $10,000 and non of which have a co-owner or beneficiary. Is probate necessary? (Answer: Yes, the total value of all non-real-estate property (the bank accounts) exceeds $75,000.00).
  • A decedent only has one asset: a home worth 1 million dollars with a mortgage balance of $950,000.00). Is probate necessary? (Answer: No, the total value of real property is less than $100,000 and there is no non-real property).
  • A decedent has a bank account with a value of $150,000. The bank account has a friend named as a co-owner on the account. Is probate necessary? (Answer: No, the account automatically transfers to the co-owner).