A state court system devotes time and energy into handling cases for its citizens. That includes probate cases. For example, Arizona’s probate system provides systems and forms for people to settle their estates. While the term “probate’ typically refers only to the administration of a Will, probate courts also handle other matters involving the settlement of an estate.
What the System Does
The probate system is not needed for all cases, but there are times when the probate system is useful:
- The system provides for an orderly administration of a person’s assets after death.
- The debts of the estate, unknown and known, can be resolved.
- Real and personal property can be clearly transferred.
- Grievances that crop up during the administration of an estate can be aired and resolved.
The Arizona system consists of Superior Courts typically called probate courts. Judges in probate courts review documents filed with the clerk, hold hearing, review testimony, accept financial and annual reports, and issue orders.
Each county has a Clerk of the Superior Court that is responsible for probate, civil, domestic, criminal, and juvenile cases.
Case Processing Clerks work in the Probate Case Processing Department. Calendar clerks are the face of the department, providing court-related information and answering questions from the public. Judicial clerks also handle public inquiries and also process court records.
Examiners review documents filed with the court. They make sure that documents comply with orders handed down by a judge and with statutory guidelines.
Accountants deal with financial documents handed down during the administration of an estate. Another task is reviewing annual accountings filed in conservatorships and guardianships. A probate accountant will report to the court and may make recommendations to seek additional information or review.
Investigators do just that – investigate. To people who don’t work in the legal field, this may seem odd. But there are times when investigators have to find missing people or look for signs of abuse. Investigators also may make recommendations about action that should be taken.
Attorneys ad litem are sometimes appointed by the court to represent vulnerable parties, like children or a ward in a conservatorship action.
Probating a Will.
How a case is handled and how long it takes depends on the type of administration needed. In Arizona, the probate system offers the following increasingly complex levels of probate:
- Transfer by Small Estate Affidavit.
- Summary Administration.
- Informal Probate.
- Formal Probate.
- Supervised Administration.
Small estates typically use one of the first three types of administration listed above. More complicated estates or estates with a high value may require the additional court oversight used in formal probate and supervised administration.
Wondering How to Avoid Probate? We Have the Answer!
Find out more about your estate planning options by watching some of the free videos on our website, keystonelawfirm.com. For more information or to set up an appointment with a qualified Arizona estate planning attorney, give us a call at (480) 418-8448. Located in Chandler, we assist clients throughout Arizona including Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Sun Lakes, and Tempe.