Informal probate. Informal probate is the simplest form of probate, used when there is a valid will that has not been challenged or no will at all, called intestate succession. The personal representative appointed by the court administers the estate with minimal court supervision.

Formal probate. Formal probate resolves an estate’s legal issues.  This might include whether a Will is valid, who should be appointed as personal representative, or there are conflicting interpretations of a Will. 

Supervised probate. Some estates require supervised probate, in which the court oversees the entire process. The personal representative goes to the court and asks for approval before taking any actions such as paying creditors or distributing assets. Any person who has an interest in an estate can request supervised probate. Probate courts usually require supervised probate when it is necessary to protect an inheritor, creditor, or other interested party.

Summary Administration.  In cases involving a surviving spouse or dependent children, a Summary Administration may be used. A shortened form of probate, Summary Administration is available in cases where the estate’s assets do not exceed $37,000. During a Summary Administration, probate is opened, a personal representative is appointed and assets and funds are inventoried. Upon completion of the inventory, the personal representative can pay all related costs, and distribute the remainder of the estate.

Avoiding Probate Entirely.  Once an inventory is compiled of the deceased person’s assets, probate can be avoided if the following conditions apply to the estate:

  • The value of all of the personal property (cash, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, cars, jewelry, money owed to the person who died, etc.) in the estate of the person who died , wherever located, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed $75,000, and at least 30 days have passed since the death
  • The assessed value of the real property in the deceased’s estate located in Arizona, less liens and encumbrances as of the date of death, does not exceed $100,000, and at least 6 months have passed since the death
  • A person is entitled to the real property and/or personal property because:
    • That person is named in a Will to receive it;
    • The deceased did not have a Will, but the person is the deceased person’s spouse, or child, or parent, or brother or sister, in that order.