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How to Avoid Probate in Arizona

There are many reasons why you might want to avoid the probate process:

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Probate is a legal process by which someone’s will is validated, thereby also granting authority to the estate executor to carry out their job. Once probate is granted, the probate court also oversees the executor’s duties and the final distribution of the estate. On their part, the estate executor must ensure that beneficiaries receive their inheritance according to the will.

While you might think that probate is a necessary process of the estate settlement journey, that’s not necessarily the case. There are many reasons why you might want to avoid the probate process:

  • It can be time-consuming
  • It can get expensive: In Arizona, the cost of probate can vary depending on the estate, but you can count on spending about $2,000 to $5,000 in legal fees alone if you choose to work with an estate lawyer. Simply applying for probate in Arizona already costs anywhere between $164 to over $250.
  • If you are executing a will on a large estate or with multiple assets, the costs can really start to escalate.
  • The probate proceedings are public. That means that all assets and liabilities associated with the estate will be available for anybody to view.

However, there are a number of strategies you can use to avoid probate in Arizona. All of these strategies have the same aim: To reduce the size of your estate, thereby taking advantage of Arizona’s out-of-court affidavit procedure, which allows estates with personal property worth $75,000 or less, as well as estates with real estate worth $100,000 or less, to be settled outside of court with an affidavit. Taking a proactive approach to estate planning can help you and your loved ones save money, time, and unnecessary frustration in the future.

How Can You Avoid Probate In Arizona?

If your estate is worth more than $75,000, Arizona law requires that the estate go through probate. However, there are things you can do before you die to help avoid the cost and hassle of probate.

In summary, here are some strategies you can use to avoid probate:

  • Create a living trust
  • Title property with right of survivorship
  • Name beneficiaries
  • Consider a living inheritance

Living Trusts

One of the easiest ways to bypass probate is to create a living trust. Living trusts allow you to transfer your assets and properties to the trust, so that they no longer form part of your estate. After you pass, the distribution of those assets to your named beneficiaries can be arranged without the need for probate.

Setting up a trust is relatively easy. You will usually be named as the initial trustee or creator of the trust. You will also need to name a “successor trustee” who will manage the trust on your behalf once you pass and oversee the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. Putting your assets into a trust allows you to reduce the size of your estate, thereby making your estate more likely to qualify for an out-of-court procedure.

Title Property with Right of Survivorship

Another way to avoid probate is to create joint accounts and joint property ownership for real estate and other assets. That way, the asset goes directly to the surviving joint owner, without having to go through probate. In Arizona, there are two designations for joint ownership:

  • Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship - Assets with this designation, including joint accounts and jointly owned real estate, will pass directly to the surviving joint owner. Joint tenancies are available to all individuals and may include more than two people. They do not need to be related to each other.
  • Community Property with Rights of Survivorship - This designation is limited to married couples only.

Name Beneficiaries

Another effective strategy to reduce the size of your estate includes naming beneficiaries for specific assets. This includes retirement accounts, life insurance, savings accounts, and other assets in your name. By naming beneficiaries for payable- and transferable-upon-death accounts and title deeds before you die, you can ensure these assets go directly to your heirs, no probate court needed.

Consider a Living Inheritance

More and more people are considering a living inheritance as part of their estate plan. A living inheritance allows you to gift your assets in your lifetime and watch your loved ones enjoy their inheritance now, while you are still alive. You might choose to gift property, vehicles, cash, or any other personal property. In doing so, you'll be able to significantly reduce the size of your estate.

Get Help With Estate Planning

Probate can be costly and time-consuming. Getting expert help with estate planning now can help to save money, preserve family privacy and ensure the distribution of your assets is handled smoothly and without going through the courts. Curious to learn more? Get in touch with ClearEstate for a free consultation today.

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