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Small Estate Affidavits Attorneys in Scottsdale, Arizona

How to Handle a Small Estate in Arizona

If you need to transfer the assets to the heirs of a resident in Scottsdale, Arizona, who died with an estate that's worth less than a certain dollar amount, it's not always necessary to go through a formal probate court proceeding.

If the value of the assets qualifies the estate as a "small estate," under Arizona law, you can take advantage of a very simplified procedure. Instead of opening probate, you need only to file a simple form or two and, in the case of a real estate asset, wait for a certain amount of time (six months) before distributing the assets.

Heirs, or persons named in a decedent's will, can use a simple affidavit procedure to inherit assets. You just have to wait the required period of time (30 days in the case of personal property), then sign a simple, sworn statement that no probate proceeding is pending in your state and that you are the person entitled to inherit a particular asset--a bank account, or a car, for example.

Only the things that pass to heirs and beneficiaries by will or, if there's no will, by Arizona intestacy laws, which determine who inherits if there is no will are includible in the estate of the decedent.

Looking to Avoid Probate?

Not included are assets that are held in joint tenancy, retirement plans, (POD) bank accounts, real estate transferred by a beneficiary deed, or transfer-on-death brokerage accounts. These assets are not probate assets in terms of the small estate limit because they pass to the named beneficiaries regardless of what a will (or state intestacy law) says. If a person had a life insurance policy with a named beneficiary, the insurance proceeds are not includible as an estate asset either.

In Scottsdale and throughout the state of Arizona, in terms of real estate, you value the property at the assessed value (check the assessor's website for the value) and then deduct the mortgage amount. This is the "net value" of the real property, and this is the amount that has to be lower than the limit, which in Arizona is $100,000. The limit on personal property is $75,000.

To summarize, in Arizona, you can use an Affidavit if the total value of the personal property in the estate is $75,000 or less. There's a 30-day waiting period. You can also use this procedure if the total value of real property is $100,000 or less, and all debts and taxes have been paid. This $100,000 figure is the value of the property minus the mortgage and other liens on it.

See Ariz. Rev. State. Ann 14-3971, 3973, and 3974

There is also a summary probate procedure available for estates that do not exceed the value of the family allowance available in lieu of homestead, exempt property, family allowance, costs of administration, funeral expenses and last illness expenses. There is a six month waiting period for this summary procedure.

See Ariz. Rev. State. Ann 14-3973,

Waiting Period

In order to use the small estate affidavit of succession for real property, You must wait 6 months after the person has died to take advantage of the small estate affidavit for real property. The affidavit must describe the property and what ownership interest the decedent had in the property at death. The affidavit must state that a personal representative has not been appointed.

If a personal representative had been appointed, and that person was discharged (or more than one year has passed since the closing statement on the estate was filed), it is still possible to use the affidavit of succession to real property.

Effect of the Affidavit

When a small estate affidavit is presented to a person or agency, for example, the MVD or a bank, the person or entity it is presented to is not required to inquire as to the truth of the statements in the affidavit. If they refuse to turn over the property, they can be compelled to by a court order.