AZ probate law: Is avoiding probate necessary? Prudent?

By November 17, 2010Uncategorized

When we talk about probate, we are talking about the legal process by which one person’s assets transfer to his heirs after he dies.  While one may think that this happens automatically, the truth is that Arizona probate law is quite complex.  A personal representative is charged with managing the probate process, and this person is legally obligated to fulfill duties and obligations throughout the entire probate process.  Of course, none of this will truly inconvenience the deceased person, but the fact that this process is time consuming and sometimes costly may give cause for people to consider alternatives to probate.

Many people put a great deal of thought into preparing their affairs for when they pass away.  For these people, the primary impetus behind this type of estate planning is to divide and distribute their estate according to their wishes.  People with the foresight to prepare an estate plan don’t tend to include as will instructions that their assets should be tied up in a court proceeding and then used to pay for that very proceeding before passing to their heirs.  Rather, those with the foresight to create an estate plan tend to know what they want, and come up with strategies to accomplish their goals as efficiently and as effectively as possible, even after they are gone.

This is where probate avoidance comes in.  Arizona probate law only controls assets and property that are not controlled by other legal designations or instruments.  This means that individuals who use legal devices and planning strategies may be able to keep their property out of probate when they pass away.  And, where property remains outside the realm of AZ probate law, it may pass to a deceased person’s heirs more quickly.

People should understand, however, that probate is not an inherently bad process.  It is not always expensive, nor is it always the case that probate drags on for years on end.  But, because the Arizona Probate Code places such strict requirements on Personal Representatives, those in a probate proceeding should always consult with an Arizona probate lawyer.  When a person passes away and has not planned around probate, a probate proceeding is inevitable, and it will pay to have an Arizona probate attorney to keep everything within the bounds of AZ probate law.