After a person passes away, probate is the legal process that involves proving the validity of the deceased person’s will, identifying and inventorying the person’s property, getting the property appraised, paying debts and taxes and distributing the property according to the will. Many people create wills simply to help their loved ones avoid a complicated probate process.
Probate in Arizona may be informal, formal or supervised. A simplified probate for certain estates also exists. Not all assets necessarily have to go through probate. For example, living trust assets, community property that has a right of survivorship and property held in joint tenancy typically does not go through probate.
If you are preparing to enter the probate process in the Peoria, AZ area, you will want to make sure that you have legal representation. Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, has almost a half-century of combined legal experience in matters such as estate litigation. Our law firm understands how confusing and stressful powers of attorney, living will, and last wills and testaments can be for some people. We work closely with our clients to make sure that all of their most important concerns are adequately addressed. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn more about how we can serve you.
Many wills pass through the probate process without being contested. However, when a person challenges the validity of a will, the person typically will take issue with some element of the actual will or creation of the will.
For example, a person may challenge the deceased person’s state of mind when the will was created. The person may argue that the deceased person lacked the mental capacity to understand what he or she was signing. This type of challenge to the validity of a will can be complex. A person will usually need compelling evidence of mental incapacity in order to get the Probate Court to accept the argument.
Some people may claim that a deceased person was subject to some kind of undue influence by another party. They may claim that the will granted more property to an individual who manipulated the deceased person. Typically, the person is one who was in a position of trust. Some people may allege that an individual engaged in actual fraud in the creation of a will.
A will contest can also focus on technical details. For instance, a person may allege that a will fails to satisfy basic requirements such as being witnessed and/or notarized. If a will fails to meet certain requirements, then the will is not valid, and it won’t hold up through the probate process.
You can find many different forms on the Internet that are supposedly designed for creating wills. However, these documents may be dated and misleading. You should always work with an attorney to make sure your will is properly formatted and presented according to Title 14 of the Arizona Code.
You can create your own will by simply listing all of your assets and assigning each of them a proximate value. In addition to your list of assets, you should also write a list of personal bequests for other people. You will also want to list all of your legal heirs, including those that you specifically wish to exclude. Another list entitled beneficiaries can include charities, friends or other people who are not legal heirs.
In the will, you must specify how you want your assets distributed and name an executor to your estate. You also must sign and date your will in front of two witnesses and have it notarized.
In order to ensure that your will is valid, you should work with an experienced estate attorney. At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, we can make sure that your will meets all requirements. We can also ensure that your will meets all of your objectives.
Not all types of property need to be included in a will, but you should still try to include all of your assets and real property. In general, some of the most common kinds of property that people include in wills are:
Many kinds of property could require additional information, such as the location and value of the property. Property with a right of survivorship, property placed in a trust and property for which a beneficiary has already been named does not need to be included in a will.
When a person dies without having created a will, then the person’s property will have to be transferred according to state laws known as intestate succession. These laws are found in Title 14 of the Arizona Code. Intestate succession applies only to property that a deceased person owned alone.
Under Arizona intestacy laws, a person who is survived by a spouse and children, or a spouse and no other descendants, will have all of the estate inherited by the surviving spouse. When a person who is survived by a spouse and children who are not the children of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse inherits only half of the deceased spouse’s separate property, while the children inherit the other half of the separate property as well as all of the deceased spouse’s community property.
If a person is survived by descendants but no spouse, the descendants inherit the entire estate. When a person is survived by a parent or parents but no spouse or descendants, the parents inherit the entire estate in equal shares. If a person is survived by a sibling or siblings with no parents, spouse, or descendants, the siblings inherit the entire estate.
When a deceased person is not survived by a spouse, descendants, parents, or siblings, then the deceased person’s property will pass to any nieces and nephews. The property next goes to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins of any degree or other parties. When a person has not family members, their assets become escheat. In other words, the assets become property of the state.
Are you trying to create a will or experiencing another probate issue in Peoria? It will be important for you to retain legal counsel so you can be sure that your property is handled the right way. Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, will be committed to helping you to achieve the most desirable outcome to your situation. We can explore all of your legal options when you contact us and set up a free consultation.