Q: Is a probate always filed when a person dies?
A: It will depend upon the assets left by the decedent. A “probate asset” is property (which may be money, real estate, a vehicle, or more personal items such as jewelry, furniture, etc.) which is to go to an heir or a devisee pursuant to a probate proceeding. A “non-probate asset” is the same or similar property which passes by operation of law (eg. Payable on death, right of survivorship, by contract, title recording, life insurance, pension beneficiary, etc.)
Q: What if the decedent’s assets do not have much value?
A: Whether the value of a decedent’s estate has considerable value or very little value is an important factor, under Arizona law, for determining whether a probate must be filed. In Arizona, a small estate may be collected by an affidavit rather than filing a probate.
Q: What property can be collected by affidavit?
A: Wages, personal property and real estate may be collected by affidavit by the person entitled to such property provided such person adheres to the guidelines set forth in the Arizona Statues governing collection by affidavit for the specific type of property being collected.
Q: What if all that is needed to be collected is someone’s last paycheck or earnings?
A: Earnings can be collected by the Affidavit Process. Collection is limited to wages not in excess of $5,000.00.
Q: If someone owes a debt to the decedent can this be collected?
A: The person entitled to receive the money that is in the possession of another person may do so through the Affidavit Process thirty days after the death of the decedent, if no petition for appointment of a Personal Representative has been granted or is pending, or the Personal Representative has been discharged or more than one year has passed since the closing of a probate estate. Further, that the value of all the personal property of the decedent does not exceed $75,000 as of the date of the Affidavit.
Q: If I release property to a person collecting such property by affidavit am I protected from liability for releasing such property?
A: Pursuant to Arizona Statutes persons are entitled to rely on the affidavits and are protected from liability for doing so. A.R.S. Section 14-3972.
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