Arizona Probate Law

The lawyers at Platt and Westby, P.C. are experienced Phoenix Probate attorneys.

We have settled Phoenix and Maricopa County probate estates for our Clients and also for our own families. We have also administered probates across the State of Arizona, including in Pima, Pinal, Yavapai and Coconino counties, to name a few.

We know how stressful and difficult winding up the affairs of a family member can be. Our Phoenix Probate lawyers can help in many ways. Sometimes all that is needed is an initial no-fee conference to answer questions and provide direction.

Other legal matters are more complicated and their solutions require more work. In all cases, Platt and Westby probate lawyers explain the process, discuss and formulate an action plan to accomplish Client goals and keep our Clients informed each step of the way. Providing information and answering questions is an essential first step in helping families deal with probate or estate matters.

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal proceeding supervised by the court in which a deceased person’s property is assembled and protected so that it may be distributed to his or her beneficiaries or heirs. Along the way, property can be liquidated and legitimate bills of the deceased person will be paid. Beneficiaries of an Estate are designated by a deceased person in his or her Will.

If there is no Will, the heirs of a deceased person are designated by Arizona statute. Jurisdiction over a probate estate is in the state where the decedent resided at the time of death. Because it is a court proceeding, a probate is public. The proceedings will usually take about nine months to conclude unless problems arise in the administration of the estate. The process is commenced either by the filing of a formal petition or an informal application with the probate registrar. A Personal Representative will be appointed to administer and distribute the estate. The Personal Representative is nominated by the decedent in his or her will, and is usually appointed unless circumstances exist which disqualify him or her.

Where there is no will, Arizona law designates persons with priorities for acting as personal representative. If no one of a higher priority comes forward to probate an estate, a creditor can open probate and serve as Personal Representative.

Not All Estates Need To Be Probated

Smaller estates can often avoid the usual probate proceedings. Under Arizona Law, ARS 14-3971, a small estate can be administered without a probate by affidavit. A small estate is defined as:

  1. Having real property assets with an equity value of $100,000.00 or less,
  2. Personal property with a net equity (value less liens and encumbrances) of no more than $75,000.00, or
  3. Unpaid wages of no more than $5,000.00.

Certain conditions apply to the use of the affidavit procedures as well as summary administration procedures which, if not met, could still require a regular probate proceeding. Platt and Westby’s probate attorneys can advise you on these issues. Estates can also avoid probate through careful planning by the decedent. Some of the strategies used to avoid probate are:

  1. Use of payable on death or transfer on death accounts;
  2. Holding money or property as joint tenants with right of survivorship;
  3. Use of a beneficiary deed to transfer real property;
  4. Making sure your beneficiary designations are up to date for your life insurance policies and 401 K accounts; and
  5. Use of a properly funded Revocable Living Trust. A Revocable Living Trust is probably the most common estate planning tool used to avoid probate and speed estate administration upon a death.

Life Events Can Sometimes Trigger A Probate

Arizona has adopted a statute, ARS 14-2804, that automatically invalidates a divorced spouse as beneficiary under a former spouse’s Will or Insurance policy. Where there is no valid beneficiary under an insurance policy, an estate may need to be probated to collect the policy proceeds and distribute to the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate.

Contact Us To Speak With An Experienced Phoenix Probate Attorney

Contact us using the form on this page or call 602-277-4441 to speak with one of our experienced probate lawyers. We will be pleased to meet with you, review your circumstances and help you decide if a probate is needed or if there is a better option for the speedy administration of an estate.

If you have a probate question, contact us.

We can help.


Melissa Keiper
Melissa Keiper
00:40 22 Feb 18
I wrote in to a law message board asking about a step in my case and Mr. Peter Westby replied with some sound advice. I emailed him to thank him for his advice and shared with him I was not being represented. He offered to meet with me to go over my case and possibly about representing me. In our meeting he allowed me to give him all the details of my case and he spent a good amount of time offering advise and insight to the law pertaining to my situation. Mr. Westby was very patient and allowed me to ask multiple questions and was thorough in his answers. Because I live 2 hours away and in a different county (Tucson), and because my case will most likely go to trial and the cost of travel for him to represent me I am unable to retain Mr. Westby as my attorney. However, if this were to be taking place in Phoenix I would hire him in a heartbeat. I appreciate his willingness to talk with me and spend his time assuring me about the steps i'll need to take in my case. He was very prompt in his reply to my question and then for scheduling a phone conference to go over a case he prob knew he wouldn't be able to take given the distance.read more
Lance Wallace
Lance Wallace
16:44 04 Jan 18
I've worked with Pete Westby on a few matters over the years and I do recommend him and his firm. It is nice to talk and work directly with a principal of the firm who has both integrity and tons of experience.read more
John Rukavena
John Rukavena
23:25 12 Oct 17
Meet with Peter today and was very impressed. I had a large tile job that was done improperly and was not sure if a lawsuit made economic sense. Peter was straightforward and told me that if the contractor did not have sufficent assets, a lawsuit would be risky because a favorable court decision might not result in a payout. I now know what I need to do thanks to Peter.read more
David Hughes
David Hughes
17:08 08 Nov 17
Mr. Westby was great and very knowledgeable and the staff was friendly and very responsive and kept me informed every step of the way... I would and will definitely recommend Platt & Westby P.C. to friends and family.read more
Jordan P
Jordan P
19:07 04 Sep 17
We went in for our free consultation regarding our legal concerns and we were very happy with our experience and outcome of our situation. Mr. Rahtz was professional, informative, and helpful. I would recommend him for anyone seeking legal counselling. Thank you to Mr. Rahtz and the rest of the team at Platt & Westby.read more
Kenneth Crayton
Kenneth Crayton
07:30 22 May 18
RahtzHe gave me his undivided attention and seemed to genuinely care. In my experience, it has been very tedious and daunting to begin a conversation with an attorney, especially one at a law firm with other partners, etc. That is, usually law firms won't lend an ear, it seems, unless you pay $100-300 initial consulting fee, which is basically a $15 overview of your case and whether they think it's worthwhile$$$.However, not only was I surprised to see Attorney Rhatz offer a no-cost consultation, but he also kept it "real." He advised me with information that even seemed to work against his assumed interest in profit (i.e., he didn't try to exploit me for money), such as by providing me with self-help research suggestions, and even helped me put together an outline for my case.He didn't want me to lose more money winning with him (he didn't want me to spend so much money to retain him, that even if winning the case, I'd still be at a net negative dollar-loss).He gave me his undivided attention, asked questions that showed he actually paid attention, and was very resourceful with directing me towards credible sources of jurisprudence.What's more, is that he didn't throw me out after 15 minutes, but rather stayed with me until he felt I was sufficiently informed with the material and answers to questions to send me along my way.This man even read through all my notes and connected with me as a person.I also appreciated his aggressive, but civil, nature towards vanquishing the countering party. He is strategic, he is prepared to preempt the countering party's legal arguments by first calling them out himself, and sparks reassurance that he is sedulously and astutely on the case.Obviously, I would recommend attorney R Andrew Rahtz for the aforementioned reasons, despite only meeting with him one time on an preliminary consultation.read more
Paulo Soares
Paulo Soares
01:38 11 Jul 18
Mr. Westby really knows his stuff, and gave me some excellent advice. I will be back to move forward on my situation.
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