Probate is the official court process of distributing your estate after you pass away. There are several steps to complete in the probate process, so it usually takes at least 6 months. Much of this will depend on how expedient the executor is about completing tasks – you can choose the executor in your will, someone can volunteer, or the executor will need to be assigned by the court. The process can also be drawn out if anyone disputes the validity or terms of your estate plan in probate court. Not only will this delay when your beneficiaries will receive what you left for them, but it can also cost them a significant amount of attorney’s fees.
Undoubtedly, you want to leave your loved ones your estate with as few problems, taxes, and fees as possible. Probate is also a matter of public record, so many people dislike how the process takes away privacy. So you may be wondering if there is any way to bypass the probate process after your death. In Arizona, certain estates may qualify to use a small estate affidavit and skip probate. The limits for a small estate in Arizona are $100,000 in real property and $75,000 in personal property. You can give gifts before your death and reduce the size of your estate with trusts to help your estate qualify for a small estate affidavit. If your goal is to keep your estate within Arizona’s small estate affidavit limits, you should discuss your options with an experienced estate planning lawyer.
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