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What Happens if I Die Without a Will in Arizona?

Die Without a Will in Arizona

Procrastination is the enemy of any good estate plan and probate without a will is the reality for many in Arizona because of it. The law in Arizona makes provisions for a “default will” for those people who die without one. These laws are found at Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 14-2101, et seq., and are commonly referred to as intestacy statutes.

These intestacy statutes dictate who will inherit the probate assets of a deceased person in a variety of circumstances. Who gets what in these circumstances can get kind of confusing.

Let’s assume the following. Chad and Lisa are married. Chad dies first. Chad did not have will or a trust.

What will happen to Chad’s property:

  1. If Chad did not have any children with Lisa and did not have any children with anyone else, Lisa will inherit all of Chad’s assets.
  2. If Chad and Lisa together have 3 kids, Lisa will inherit all of Chad’s assets.
  3. If Chad has 3 kids from a prior marriage and no kids with Lisa, Lisa is entitled to one-half of Chad’s separate property and none of Chad’s share of community property. This cuts down Lisa’s inheritance substantially.

Let’s assume the following. Chad is single. Chad dies without a will or a trust. What will happen to Chad’s property now:

  1. If Chad did not have any children with anyone, his parents will inherit all of Chad’s assets.
  2. If Chad’s parents are not alive, then Chad’s siblings will inherit all of Chad’s assets.

Non-Probate Transfers

If an asset has a beneficiary named on it, or is jointly owned, it will not need probate. These kinds of assets are called non-probate assets. Some examples of non-probate assets are life insurance policies with one or more named beneficiaries, retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, financial accounts with one or more named payable upon death (POD) beneficiaries, and joint accounts with rights of survivorship.

Unintended Inheritance

Another unintended potential problem that can arise when someone dies without a will is that the assets could end up in the hands of a family member who the deceased person would never have wanted to receive ANYTHING. Arizona law allows anyone to exclude or limit the rights of any person through a will. However, when no will exists, the intestacy laws control. If you want to be in control of what happens with your estate, prepare a will.

Transfer of Title to Small Estates by Affidavit

There are many different probate scenarios, but for smaller, less complicated estates, a beneficiary can take advantage of one of the probate shortcuts known as the Small Estate Affidavit.

A beneficiary may use a Small Estate Affidavit for personal property (things other than real estate) if the following criteria are met:

  • If the value of personal property in the estate is less than $75,000
  • If it has been at least thirty (30) days since death
  • If the estate is not being administered through a probate proceeding

A beneficiary may use a Small Claim Affidavit for Real Estate if the following criteria are met:

  • Where the total value of the estate’s real estate is less than $100,000
  • When it has been at least six (6) months since the death
  • If the estate is not being administered through a probate proceeding
  • When all unsecured debts are paid, AND
  • When no estate tax is due

It can be really hard trying to figure out these laws after a loved one has passed. An experienced probate attorney can be invaluable in sorting out all the various rules and distinctions, and represent you and provide guidance through an emotional and trying time.

Contact Me today to get the facts straight. I can help you learn what must happen to bring probate closure as quickly as possible.

This blog is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the blog publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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