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Arizona Probate Laws

Probate describes a superior court proceeding where the court appoints a personal representative of the estate of a deceased person. The representative is responsible for paying the estate's debts and distributing any left over assets.

In Arizona, there are three (3) different ways to probate an estate whether the decedent died with a will or without a will. These three types of probate procedures are known as "informal probate, "formal probate," and "supervised probate."

Informal Probate Process

Most probate actions in Arizona are “informal,” which means they are completed with minimal court supervision. No visits to the courthouse are necessary and there will not be a judge overseeing the personal representative’s every move. Formal probates are reserved for cases when there is controversy surrounding the validity of the will, choice of personal representative, or identification of heirs.

Informal probate is an Arizona Superior Court proceeding overseen by a judge, the clerk of the court or a court commissioner designated to oversee and administer informal probates.

Only certain people can file for an informal probate proceeding including:

  • decedent's spouse,
  • adult child, parent,
  • sibling, half-sibling,
  • heir,
  • nominated personal representative as named in the decedent's will,
  • the department of veteran's services if the decedent is a veteran,
  • a creditor if 45 days has passed since the decedent's death.

Formal Probate

Formal probate matters are typically heard by a judge and may involve one or more hearings before the court.

Formal probate may be required for several reasons, including:

  • When there is a question surrounding the validity of the will,
  • Choice of personal representative,
  • Identification of heirs, or
  • an asset requires increased court supervision.

Supervised Probate

Supervised probate is the traditional way of conducting probate. In supervised probate proceedings, the Arizona court oversees and administrates all aspects, including opening the estate, approving of attorneys, appointing personal representatives, taking statements of creditors, and so on.

The difference between Arizona’s supervised probate and formal probate is that formal probate is only partially supervised.

Other Types of Estate Administration

In Arizona, if a decedents estate is small enough, the law allows you to skip probate altogether and use a simplified process. This usually is reserved for smaller estates if the value is under $100,000 (for real estate) or under $75,000 (personal property).

See Probate Court, State Probate Courts, Avoiding Probate, and Estate Taxes for more information.

Code Section Title 14 - Trusts, Estates and Protective Proceedings
Types of Probate Administration Informal (including small estate administration), Formal and Supervised
When is an estate eligible for small estate administration?

Personal property:

  • Total value of the estate’s personal property must be less than $75,000
  • The estate must not be going through formal probate.

Real estate:

  • Total value of the estate’s real estate must be less than $100,000
  • Funeral expenses and all unsecured debts must have been paid,
  • No federal estate taxes are due.
What Assets Skip Probate Entirely
Estate Taxes No, Arizona does not collect a separate estate tax.
Where to Order Death Certificates

Arizona Department of Health Services

Probate Resources

State-wide forms

Duties of a Personal Representative

He or she must:

  • Obey Court orders
  • Locate and collect the estate assets
  • Pay the debts of the estate, including taxes
  • Deal in good faith with estate beneficiaries and account to them
  • Distribute the estate assets as called for in the Will or otherwise by law

Arizona probate laws can be tricky. Please consider contacting a local probate lawyer who can help you better understand the current rules and procedures.

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