Q: My mom died without a will Dec 2, 2019. Her only major asset is the house, located in Park Scottsdale.
There is a reverse mortgage and credit debts, as well as this year's property tax, probably totalling a little over $300,000. This area is being re-developed- a teardown was bought across the street and the new build sold for 1,150,000. Our lot is about 1/4 acre, to be sold as is. How do I determine if I should file an informal probate or a small estate affadavit? Another 'ask a lawyer's site told me most informal probate applications are rejected and then we would have to file formal probate...why is that? We, my siblings and I, cannot afford legal help, or formal probate. I am disabled and at high risk for a bad outcome to Covid. My siblings agreed to let me file on their behalf. Which forms should I file? Also, on the informal probate forms, it asked to estimate the value of property- is that supposed to be minus the debts, or the total estimated appraisal value? And is the estimated appraisal value different than possible selling value? Thank you
To be a small estate, the estate must have less than $75,000 in personal property (bank accounts, cars, investments, etc.) and less than $100,000 in equity in real estate. The valuation for the property is determined by the county tax assessed value. You can also deduct any mortgages owed on the property. You have to wait 30 days for personal property and six months for real estate. Also for the real estate, all debts must be paid first.
If it is not a small estate, then you can file a normal probate either formally or informally. Informal probates are routinely granted. I'm not sure why you were told otherwise.
You should probably consult an attorney with your various questions.
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If you believe that the equity value (fair market sales price less the amount of the mortgage loans) of Mom's home exceeds $100,000.00 then I would recommend filing an informal probate. If less than $100,000.00 a small estate affidavit could be used. A realtor with listings in your area can assist you in determining a fair market value for Mom's home. Or an appraiser can be hired.
In my experience, most applications for informal probate are accepted. Costs can be reduced if all heirs agree to waive the bond requirement. There are good forms that come with instructions on the Maricopa County Superior Court website. These will answer many of your questions and are successfully used by many people who choose to represent themselves.
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I am so sorry for your loss.
I believe an informal probate is fine, as long as you retain an attorney in your area to help you. The other attorney is correct, insofar as many informal probates are rejected, because loved ones try to start this process themselves.
You need a professional to guide you.
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