Sometimes when a person in the Tucson area passes away, it is necessary for their estate to be probated. This may be the case if they do not have an estate plan or if they only have a will, not a trust. Through probate, a person’s estate assets will be located, any debts and taxes will be paid, and finally the estate assets will be passed on to the appropriate heirs either through intestate succession or per the terms of the decedent’s will. There are several types of probate in Arizona: informal probate, formal probate and supervised probate.

The majority of probated estates in Arizona will go through informal probate. In an informal probate proceeding a judge, court commissioner or the clerk of court will oversee the probate process. However, they will not necessarily oversee every action of the personal representative. In addition, generally only a spouse, certain close relatives, heirs or a personal representative can file for informal probate.

Sometimes, however, it is necessary for your estate to go through formal probate proceedings. For example, formal probate may be needed if an heir is challenging a will or your choice of personal representative, if heirs need to be identified or if an asset in your estate needs to be supervised by the court. However, the court will only partially oversee formal probate proceedings. In contrast, if an estate is going through supervised probate, the court will oversee and administer all parts of the probate process.

This post is only a basic overview of the types of probate in Arizona and does not serve as legal advice. Estate planning attorneys in Southern Arizona may be a useful resource to those who have questions about probate proceedings in the state.