Probate and Estate planning in Arizona - why that matters?
Estate planning don't have to be difficult or hard to understand. This guide will break down what is probate and how estate planning can prevent that in Arizona
A 2021 poll showed that 46% of US adults have a will or estate plan in place. This is lower than it was in 2016, when the result of the poll was 51% of respondents.
No matter how old you are or what you own, probate is something that everyone should consider. After someone has passed, their possessions will need to go somewhere or to someone. Arizona is a community property state.
This process can be very stressful if you don’t know what is probate or how it works. Intestate succession laws under Arizona law and probate laws can be tricky to understand. There are several things that can affect this process, and you will need to know the legal ins and outs. An experienced estate planning attorney will help you understand probate law.
Keep reading to find out what is probate and its effect on estate planning for Arizona estate and estate administration.
Probate: What Is It and How Does It Work?
The way that probate works are that it is the analysis and transfer of estate assets. These assets were previously owned by the person who is now deceased. The estate planning process main goal is usually to avoid probate.
The probate court will review these assets, and a division and distribution ruling will go forth. This includes what assets will go to the beneficiaries.
This process usually includes the court analyzing whether there is a legal will. A will is documentation of the instructions from the deceased regarding their possessions.
If the deceased person did have a legal will probate will still be needed and a personal representative will need to be appointed.
Probate With a Will in Arizona
When a deceased person had a valid last will and testament in place, they're known as a testator or personal representative. The will usually includes the person who will be responsible for initiating probate.
This is usually a family member or friend who's known as the executor. The executor will have to file the will with the court within a certain time after the death to initiate the probate process.
The probate court will decide whether the will is authentic or not. If it is legal, it will be the last testament of the deceased person, giving the executor legal power to deal with the decedent's assets.
The executor handles following the instructions in the will for the estate. They will also need to pay off any taxes or debt that's left by the person that passed away.
They will also have to file the last personal income tax return and estate taxes for the deceased estate. Once they have finished this, whatever is left will go to the beneficiaries. All estate and gift taxes need to be addressed.
This is a relatively straight forward process that should not take too long to conclude. This is why it is so important to have a legal will documented so that these details are available.
Probate Without a Will in Arizona
When someone has not created a legal will, they're called an intestate when they pass away. An intestate estate means that the assets will be distributed according to the probate laws in the state of Arizona.
If there are not enough assets left behind by the deceased, probate may not be necessary for this process. Even without a will, you need an appointment with the probate court.
Usually a relative will act as the executor to handle any debt or legal claims in an intestate sucession. The personal representative must also locate any legal heirs of the deceased and distribute any assets that are available.
For blended families and second marriages things can be tricky. The law is usually that the estate must be equally split between the surviving spouse and children from previous marriage. An experienced estate planning attorney that knows how to create estate planning strategies for blended families may be the best investment to save your family a lot of headache.
What Is Estate Planning?
Now that you know what is probate, we can discuss estate planning and what it includes. Estate planning is when a attorney creates a specific strategy for your family to help you avoid probate.
This plan will address how you wish your estate to be managed after your death. Your estate plan can include naming a guardian for minors or providing life insurance for loved ones.
Many also include instructions on where valuables should go and what should be done if you become disabled before death.
Overall, estate planning gives you more control over what happens after your death. An estate planning attorney should help to answers all the questions that your family or loved ones may have regarding your estate.
This allows you to maintain control over where your assets go and how your final affairs are handled.
Is Probate Required?
Many people may be wondering if probate is always required. This is a good question to ask since this process can be overwhelming and time-consuming, on top of expensive.
There are all kinds of issues that could come up to delay the distribution of assets. In most instances, the longer the duration of the probate, the higher the cost will be.
Probating with a will is usually going to be more straight forward than without a will but not necessarily. Probate court is also public, so many may want to avoid this for the sake of their privacy.
If the deceased has debts that exceed their assets, probate may still be required and the estate will be insolvent. No assets will go to beneficiaries since none will remain after the debts are paid off.
To understand more when probate is necessary read our blog about the subject, click here.
People can also avoid probate by having a living trust in place before they die. Their trust dictates their final wishes and what beneficiaries will receive upon their passing.
It is always a good idea to hire a probate attorney to help you figure out what course to take. You want to make sure you are handling this situation legally.
What Is Probate and Its Effect on Estate Planning
If a family member has passed, you may be wondering what is probate. Probate and estate planning are similar but have a few differences that you should know about.