Mark A. Bregman, Estates and Trusts Lawyer


Probate Law

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal proceeding that occurs after a person dies.  It confirms the validity of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament and provides a structure for  distributing the decedent’s assets to the people described in a Will or by intestate succession if there is no Will.  The probate process typically includes the following:

  1. Proving that the Will is valid. If the Will is valid—as verified by the court—the will determines who gets what. If the Will is invalid or only part of the estate is covered by the Will, state intestate succession laws determine who receives what.
  2. Identifying  the decedent’s property
  3. Having the property appraised.
  4. Paying the decedent’s debts and taxes and expenses of administration, including legal fees and funeral expenses.
  5. Distributing the assets according to the Will.

When Does Probate Apply?

Probate is required in Arizona to determine the validity of a Will if there are assets that do not pass by operation of law.  Examples of assets passing by operation of law  are described below under “Probate Assets.”  There will be a probate whether or not there is a Will.  The probate court resolves disputes about the value or distribution of particular assets.  Probate lawyers help sort out estate issues and provide guidance if there is a dispute about the validity or interpretation of the Will.  Probate ends when the probate court closes the estate.

What Is Probate Court?

This is the court that resolves disputes arising during the administration and is the forum where concerns may be addressed about the proper administration or distribution of estate assets.

When to Notify the Public

Arizona require that you publish notice in a newspaper of general circulation which gives creditors 4 months to file a proper claim..

When is Probate Necessary?

Small estates—typically with personal property (including bank accounts) worth less than $75,000 and real estate worth less than $100,000—may use a summary probate procedure.  A probate lawyer can help determine if probate is necessary.

Probate Assets

Probate doesn’t apply to every asset.  Probate assets are assets owned solely by the decedent at the time of death.  Non-probate assets are transferred by operation of law.  Non-probate assets include property held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, community property with rights of survivorship, bank accounts in the name of more than one person, beneficiary deeds, accounts with either POD or TOD designations, and life insurance, retirement accounts, and annuities with named beneficiaries.

Contact Kim or Mark to help guide you through the probate process.