Arizona probate law: Testate vs. Intestate

By October 19, 2010Uncategorized

Arizona Probate law is foreign territory to many personal representatives handling a probate matter for the first time.  Probate has a long list of procedural requirements for personal representatives to satisfy; and, to many, even the very language describing probate is unfamiliar.  Unless a personal representative has some legal background, a primer on some basic terms may be quite useful to help him more fully understand what is expected of him throughout the probate matter.

One of the most fundamental issues in a probate matter is whether the person who passed away – known as the decedent – left a valid Will.  Where a decedent leaves a Will that complies with the Arizona Probate Code, then we say that he or she died testate.  On the other hand, where a decedent dies without a will, that person died intestate under Arizona probate law.

Of course, understanding the difference between testate and intestate is but the beginning for personal representatives.  Where a decedent dies testate, the personal representative must divide and distribute the estate’s assets as outlined in the Will.  Where a decedent dies intestate, the personal representative is bound to divide and distribute the estate according to Arizona probate law.  Either way, the personal representative is bound by specific duties and obligations contained in the Arizona Probate Code.

Personal representatives can’t be expected to understand every intricacy and nuance of Arizona probate law.  They should, however, do everything in their power to fulfill their legal duties and obligations as the representative of an estate.  This could very well include seeking an Arizona probate lawyer to guide them through the probate process.