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Informal versus formal probate actions in Arizona

The probate process in Arizona involves a superior court judge assigning a personal representative to manage the estate of someone who has died. The person appointed to this role is charged with ensuring that all the decedent's debts are paid off. They're also responsible for distributing any remaining assets left after doing so in accordance with that person's will.

Two primary approaches to probating an estate can be pursued in Arizona whether the individual who died had a will in place at the time.

Perhaps the most common type of probate action that is taken in Arizona is known as the informal process. It requires very little judicial oversight.

There are restrictions as to who can initiate the informal probate process. Adult children, the spouse and either half or full siblings may file using this approach. Any of the decedent's heirs or their previously appointed personal representative can also.

If any creditors holding debts that were 45 days or older at the time of your loved one's death or if the decedent was a veteran, then those parties can step in and request an informal resolution to the probate case as well.

As for the formal handling of probate cases, it's used only when cases are in dispute. If it's argued that the will isn't valid, that the heirs are wrong or that the choice of personal representative was coerced, then it's likely that the matter will have to be settled via the formal process. If this is the case, then any disputes will likely be heard in front a judge over the course of several hearings.

If you're currently involved in a contested will case that is slated to go through the probate process, then a Phoenix, Arizona, estate planning attorney can provide guidance in your legal matter.

Source: FindLaw, "Arizona Probate Laws," accessed Jan. 18, 2018

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