How Do I Avoid Probate in Arizona?
Most people hear the word probate and get an immediate, likely negative, reaction. Many clients will come in specifically wanting to “avoid probate.” Below are some probate basics to help you better understand what probate is, how it works and some basic steps you can take to avoid it.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process which takes place after someone dies. It is used to settle debts owed and transfer assets. Probate takes place when a person dies with assets needing to be transferred, either with a will in place or without any will in place.
Steps in Probate
Generically speaking probate involves the following steps:
- A petition is filed asking for a person to be appointed as personal representative. The personal representative will be responsible for paying debts and managing assets.
- A personal representative will be appointed, authorizing them to take action.
- The personal representative will give notice to creditors and inheritors.
- All assets will be gathered and creditors will be paid.
- Remaining assets will be distributed to beneficiaries.
Why Avoid Probate?
Some of the reasons why people may be interested in avoiding probate are the time involved in the process and potential costs, such as attorney fees or executor fees.
How to Avoid Probate?
- Non-Probate Transfers – You can make use of asset transfers outside of probate. Some property may allow you to designate a beneficiary, like retirement plans. Putting designees in place can keep assets out of probate.
- Payable-on-Death Accounts – Bank accounts can be designated to pass to a specific beneficiary.
- Living Trust – Assets that are placed into a living trust are not included as part of probate.
- Joint Tenancy – Assets held as joint tenants do not go through probate. These assets transfer automatically to the surviving owner.
Because life is ever changing, it is important to make sure any actions or planning you take will continue to work. Reviewing your assets to make sure they are addressed appropriately.
We believe your family is your most important asset. We work with you to make sure your loved ones are protected and you put the right plan in place for you.