Types of Probate in Arizona

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What Is Probate?

Probate is the process of reviewing a will to make sure it is legally valid and then distributing assets to named beneficiaries. In Arizona, there are three ways in which probate works: supervised, formal, and informal.

1. Supervised Probates

Supervised probate represents 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. However, since Arizona adopted the Uniform Probate Code (UPC), the process of probate has become simpler, using fewer judicial resources and time.

2. Formal Probates

Formal probate handles complex estates, disputes between heirs, challenges to the will’s validity, and other charges and allegations. For example, a beneficiary of the will may suspect the personal representative of taking some of the funds, an heir of hiding some of the assets, or a third party of obtaining the will through deception, undue influence, or coercion. In such cases where true legal allegations are made, formal procedures such as notice to all parties, pleadings, discovery, depositions, motions, and a trial by jury need to be instituted.

The difference between Arizona’s supervised probate and formal probate is that formal probate is only partially supervised. However, the distinction can be blurred outside of Arizona, as the two terms are used somewhat synonymously.

3. Informal Probates

Informal probate is the most common and utilized form of probate in Arizona where the will is uncontested. Informal probate provides personal representatives, beneficiaries, and other interested parties with an efficient way to file documents with the court and to administer estates. An attorney may or may not be necessary, and the judge is called a "registrar." The personal representative files the appropriate forms with the registrar and distributes the assets without the supervision of the court.

Consulting an Attorney in Arizona

If you believe a will is invalid or is being distributed unfairly, then you should seek the advice of an experienced probate lawyer. He can help you contest the probate proceeding, and can help you retrieve what is rightfully yours.

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Last Modified: 03-25-2014 12:05 PM PDT

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