When a loved one passes away, each of his or her assets must be transferred to a new owner. If that asset carries a title (like a house, a car, or bank account), a signature is required to transfer to a new owner. This is not just any signature, but the signature of the deceased person. As you might imagine, after death, you (or your loved one) will clearly not be signing anything!
The lengthy and expensive process used by the legal system to change ownership of a titled asset after death is called “probate.” Unless you have done some estate planning, your estate will pass through probate, even if you have a will. Luckily, there is a type of probate available in Arizona that is quick and relatively inexpensive. It is the “Small Estate” Probate. A change in Arizona Statute §14-3971 may allow more people to use this special tool. The new law expands the “small estate” to now include:
1. Personal property (which is everything you own except real estate) valued at less than $75,000. (Prior limit was $50,000.)
2. Real property equity valued at less than $100,000 (equity in all real estate, wherever located). (Prior limit was $75,000.)
To take advantage of the Small Estate Probate, you must file a “Small Estate Affidavit” with the court. This Affidavit can change title from the deceased person to the heir, and it is just one page long. Occasionally, a death certificate is required.
Without proper planning, most people require some kind of probate when they pass away. The Small Estate Affidavit is just one tool that can help you simplify the process. Come see us for a free consultation, and we can tailor a plan that either simplifies the probate process, or avoids it altogether. Our office prepares trusts, wills, powers of attorney, the Small Estate Affidavit, and more.