What is a Death Probate?
It is a court process to determine who shall receive your assets when you die. A probate proceeding is expensive and can delay the distribution of those assets for up to 2 years. Each state has its own monetary limits which trigger a probate. In Arizona, a probate is triggered if a person dies owning assets (bank account, investments, retirement accounts, insurance, property, etc.) in their name, without a beneficiary designation, totaling more than $50,000. A probate is also triggered if a person dies with real estate in their name alone that totals more than $75,000.
As you can see the probate limits in Arizona are fairly easy to reach. Therefore, it is important to determine now who you would like to receive your assets once you die, while avoiding a costly probate process.
How can I avoid a death probate?
There are a few options to avoid your assets going through a death probate when you die. First, naming beneficiaries on all of your assets will avoid a death probate, but it will not avoid a Living Probate (Guardianship/Conservatorship) should you become incapacitated. Second, adding a co-owner to your account(s) will avoid a death probate on the first to pass away, leaving the asset(s) titled solely in the name of the survivor. Unfortunately, the survivor of the account may not be the person that contributed the bulk of the funds to the account(s), nor the person you would want to receive the account(s) when you die. If you go this route, make sure you update it if you change your mind about whom you want to receive that account after your death. The last option, creating a Revocable Living Trust, will avoid both a death probate and living probate. A Trust not only avoids both probates, but it ensures easy administration and management of your assets during your life and when you pass away.
Because Arizona has a low probate threshold, it is vital you contact an estate planning attorney to discuss your individual estate planning options to meet your objectives and goals of having your loved ones avoid a probate when you die.
What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down. The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.