HANDLING A SMALL ESTATE IN ARIZONA

Government is widely criticized. But Government does some things right. One of the things Arizona has done right is to streamline the handling of a small estate.

What is a small estate in Arizona? Under Arizona law, a small estate is one that has up to $75,000.00 worth of personal property and up to $100,000.00 worth of real estate equity. In determining the amount of real estate equity in an estate property, ARS 14-3971 provides that the value is to be determined by using the full cash value on the assessment rolls for the year of death less any liens and encumbrances against the property. Many Arizona estates fall within these parameters.

What is the benefit of qualifying as a small estate? The benefit is that a probate can be avoided. Probate is the traditional procedure for winding up the affairs of a deceased person, paying debts and transferring assets to heirs and beneficiaries. Administration of a probate estate can take many months and thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs. If an Arizona estate qualifies as a small estate, its assets can be transferred by an affidavit instead of a probate. The affidavit procedure can be done in days instead of months and the cost is much less than a probate. The result of the lower administrative costs is that more of the estate assets can be preserved for estate heirs and beneficiaries.

Establishment of common sense procedures that cut through red tape
and minimize cost–this is what generations of citizens have asked of
their government. Here is an area where Arizona has delivered.

So if your banker or other person tells you that a probate is needed to
settle an estate, check with a probate lawyer. Instructions to open a
probate are sometimes wrong. Many estates can be handled more simply,
more quickly and less expensively.  Also, keep in mind that there are
some restrictions on uses of the affidavit procedure.  Check with a
knowledgeable probate attorney to see if the estate you are handling
qualifies.