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Small Estate Affidavit in Arizona

This is a sample of “Do Nothing and See What Happens” Approach.

Description-  A small estate affidavit allows for the transfer of personal property from the decedent to the decedent’s successors without the need for probate if the total value of the decedent’s personal property estate is less than $75,000 AND AS LONG AS THE VALUE OF REAL ESTATE DOES NOT exceed $100,000.

Advantages– A small estate affidavit is a cheaper and faster way to transfer personal property to heirs than either a will or a trust, particularly when all of the decedent’s debts are known and the decedent’s estate has sufficient funds to pay all claims.

Disadvantages- There are many disadvantages to taking the “do nothing and see what happens” approach.

First, if the person who passed away owned any Real property (such as the decedent’s house), and the house is worth more than $100,0000, then the statute does not apply.

Second, there is no creditor claim cutoff deadline for a small estate affidavit.

Third, you may have to wind up doing an Intestate Probate which takes longer and is more expensive. This causes your heirs to receive less money because more money was spent on the costs of the intestate probate and a substantial delay in being able to transfer gifts to your beneficiaries.

Fourth, you have not addressed the situation where you are alive but medically incompetent to handle your real estate and financial accounts. No designation has been made for a person to watch out for you (a guardian designation) or health care decisions.

 

Here are the requirements for using a small estate affidavit in Arizona:

Personal property: To use an affidavit to claim personal property:

  • the total value of the estate’s personal property must be less than $75,000
  • you must wait at least 30 days after death, and
  • the estate must not be going through formal probate.

Real estate: To use an affidavit to claim real estate:

  • the total value of the estate’s real estate must be less than $100,000
  • you must wait at least six months after the death
  • the court must not have appointed a personal representative
  • funeral expenses and all unsecured debts must have been paid, and
  • no estate tax can be due

For a little bit of time and money, you can create a comprehensive Peace of Mind Planning package that is effective now, will remain in effect in the event you become mentally unable to handle your financial matters and save your family and friends the heartache and hassle of cleaning up your affairs.

Claiming Property With a Simple Affidavit

Arizona has a procedure that allows inheritors to skip probate altogether when the value of all the assets left behind is less than a certain amount. All an inheritor has to do is prepare a short document, stating that he or she is entitled to a certain asset. This document, signed under oath, is called an affidavit. When the person or institution holding the property — for example, a bank where the deceased person had an account — gets the affidavit and a copy of the death certificate, it releases the asset.

The out-of-court affidavit procedure is available in Arizona if:

1. The value of all personal property in the estate, less liens and encumbrances, is $75,000 or less. There is a 30-day waiting period. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-3971.B.

or

2. The value of all Arizona real estate in the estate, less liens and encumbrances, is $100,000 or less at the date of death, and all debts and taxes have been paid. There is a six-month waiting period. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-3971.E.

Simplified Probate Procedures

Arizona has a simplified probate process for small estates. To use it, an executor files a written request with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court may authorize the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.

You can use the simplified small estate process in Arizona if the value of the entire estate, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed the allowance in lieu of homestead, exempt property, family allowance, costs of administration, funeral expenses, and expenses of the last illness. There is a six-month waiting period. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 14-3973, 3974.

 

Over the past 24 years, I have helped over 900 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate,  save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.


Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson, PLLC
60 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Suite 900 – Tempe, AZ 85281
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