Probate is the court process by which a decedent’s assets are retitled and distributed to the decedent’s heirs and devisees, and the process by which creditors are determined and paid. Probate of a decedent’s assets is needed when a person dies with assets in his name which do not pass at death by beneficiary designation (such as retirement accounts or life insurance) or pass at death by operation of law (such as property held in joint tenancy).

A probate may be TESTATE, meaning the decedent left a valid will, or INTESTATE, meaning there was no will or the will was not valid. A probate may be commenced formally or informally.

Formal Probate

Formal probate is process in which a judge determines the validity of a will and supervises the actions of the person administering the estate, or the Personal Representative. The reasons for which a formal probate may be required may include contests over the validity of a will, the choice of a personal representative, or the interpretation of the terms of the will.

Informal Probate

Informal probate is the most common form of probate proceeding in Arizona. With informal probate, the court is not actively involved in supervision of the process, making it both less expensive and more efficient. However, in order for an informal probate to be available there cannot be any controversy surrounding the validity of the will, choice of personal representative, or the terms of the will, if there is one.

In Arizona, in order for a person to act as a fiduciary - as a guardian, personal representative, or as a conservator for a person, he or she must complete the training prescribed by the Supreme Court of Arizona. These training videos give a general (and very helpful) overview of the probate process and an overview of the duties and responsibilities of each of the roles.

The online programs can be found Here


Personal Property

In Arizona a probate is not necessary if the value of all assets in the decedent’s name not passing by beneficiary designation or operation of law is less than $75,000. If that is the case the property can be collected via a small estate affidavit.

Real Property

The other type of type of affidavit is used to collect real property (real estate). If the value of real property in decedent’s estate is less than $100,000, a small estate affidavit can be utilized to collect such property avoiding probate just as the case with the personal property affidavit

Here are the Arizona definitions for legal terms used in probate and trusts.