How to Execute a Will Without Breaking the Bank

There are several strategies you can use to keep fees down while also ensuring the estate settlement process runs smoothly.

Posted on November 10, 2021 by Alex Gauthier
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Probate is not necessarily cheap. In Arizona, the cost of probate can vary depending on the estate, but you’re looking at $2,000 to about $5,000 in legal fees alone if you choose to engage the services of an estate lawyer. Simply applying for probate in Arizona already costs $164.

If you are executing a will on a large estate or with multiple assets, the costs can really start to escalate.

However, there are several strategies you can use to keep fees down while also ensuring the estate settlement process runs smoothly. In this article, we'll look at ways you can execute a will without breaking the bank.

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When is Probate Required in Arizona?

Under Arizona law, probate is typically required when the estate of the deceased amounts to more than $100,000 in real estate or more than $75,000 in personal possessions (including money and physical possessions). However, there are some exceptions to the rule. These include:

  • The surviving owner inherits the property without probate
  • Joint tenancy with right of survivorship
  • Assets titled in trust name
  • Assets subject to a beneficiary designation

Typical Probate Costs in Arizona

The average cost of probate in Arizona will vary depending on a number of factors. The majority of probate fees, including the costs of hiring a probate attorney, will typically be paid for out of the estate.

The factors that might influence the final costs include but are not limited to:

  • The size and complexity of the estate
  • Local filing fees
  • Fees per document
  • Whether or not you use a lawyer or accountant

Attorneys usually charge for their services by the hour. They will either ask for a flat fee for a specific service or require a deposit retainer upfront. If the attorney is dealing with a complex estate, these costs can start to escalate before you know it. As an estate executor, this can put a lot of stress on you, especially if other family members or prospective beneficiaries are pressuring you to keep costs down.

Planning Ahead to Avoid High Probate Costs

The best way to avoid high probate costs is to plan ahead. Estate planning will ensure the estate is organized and all necessary legal documentation is in place prior to the passing of the testator (the owner of the estate). Creating a personalized estate plan will allow the testator to name all beneficiaries on all assets including property, cars, bank accounts, etc. A solid estate plan will also allow a testator to give living inheritances in their lifetime, thereby reducing the size of the estate.

It's not pleasant to think about death, but one of the best gifts a testator can give their loved ones is a smooth probate process once they are gone. When the estate is in order with all assets organized and beneficiaries names, it saves beneficiaries the stress of untangling a mess and possibly falling out with one another.

How to Reduce Probate Costs

What many estate executors don't know is that they are not obligated to engage the services of an attorney to go through the probate process. Instead, they may use a managed estate settlement service that offers the same outcomes but for a more affordable rate. As part of the service, you'll have access to a dedicated estate professional who will help you manage the estate settlement process. From submission of probate to court and automated form filling to document notarization and continued support after probate, an estate management service managed the entire process end to end. Curious to learn more? Get in touch with ClearEstate to learn more.