Arizona Probate Procedure
UPDATED: January 6, 2020
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If you've determined that you need to file a case in Arizona probate court, you'll need to follow the specific procedure required in the county that has jurisdiction over the case (the county in which the decedent lived). Generally, you should always include an original plus one copy of each document filed.
If you have an emergency hearing scheduled, note that you'll need to arrive at the clerk's office at least 20 minutes ahead of time to give the clerk time to file the case in the system. Otherwise, under ordinary circumstances, once your case is filed, the clerk will issue a notice of hearing which then has to be taken to the calendaring office to receive a hearing date. Informal probates in Arizona are simpler: the court registrar must sign these within 24 hours. When filing Arizona probate, a personal representative is usually appointed. This applies whether a probate is filed testate or intestate (with or without a will).
Formal and Informal Arizona Probate Proceedings
Arizona offers both formal and informal probate proceedings. The court may be formally petitioned, or one may informally apply to the court registrar. Formal hearings are before a judge and require a petition for probate to be filed. Disputes among interested parties can trigger a formal probate proceeding in Arizona. Otherwise, an informal proceeding, which involves designating an executor of the estate, is more common. Note that Arizona probate proceedings can be converted to either formal or informal after their initial filing - they are not forever fixed as originally filed. For instance, a probate can be initiated informally by application to the court registrar, and then proceed to a formal hearing at any time if one becomes necessary.
From the formal hearing, the probate can even revert back to an informal proceeding, but only so long as there are no pending formal hearings required in the matter, and as long as there are no unresolved demands for notice on file. One final important difference to note is that formal probate proceedings often require the assistance of an experienced Arizona probate attorney, while informal probate generally does not.
For more information, check out our article on the Basics of Arizona Probate.