Distributing the belongings or money of a loved one may be one of the most difficult things an individual may do. It may be only slightly easier to carry out this important task if the loved one left a will.
If there is no will, the process becomes even more difficult. This means the person died “intestate,” or without a will. In these cases, the state of Arizona may step in to supervise the assets of the deceased individual.
Probate means “to prove.” The word comes from “probare.” The validity of a will is proved before family and friends receive the person’s assets. Or “probate” may mean proving the interest of a person in one or more assets.
A superior court oversees the will or the estate. It may also oversee how the deceased person’s assets are divided.
The purpose of probate
A judge in a superior court holds an interest in the process of probate and distribution of assets after a person’s death. At the beginning of the probate process, the court appoints a person who acts as the personal representative over the deceased person’s estate.
This personal representative may pay the debts of the deceased person. They may then distribute what is left over.
3 probate processes
The first probate process is the informal probate. Here, probate is completed with a minimum of court supervision. A judge will not oversee the actions of the personal representative. This process may be used when there is little or no issue or controversy over the will’s validity, identification of the heirs, or choice of personal representative.
“Formal” probate is chosen, involving court hearings before a judge, for one or more reasons. The judge rules on the personal representative, identifying the heirs, clearing up the will’s validity or if an asset needs more court supervision.
“Supervised” probate means that the judge oversees everything. This format requires full court supervision. This process may be made easier with skilled representation.