Phoenix, AZ asked in Estate Planning for Arizona

Q: Officiating intestate succession. Boyfriends father dord 08/18/20, no will, and small estate only.

Vehicle and some money, no other assets or debts. He and siblings are obviously heirs but do they need to officiate that they are? They need to get hos vehicle out of impound asap but only in dads name.

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3 Lawyer Answers
Andre L. Pennington
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Andre L. Pennington
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Surprise, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: The time constraint adds an element that is more difficult to address without probate. However, here is some good information for small estates; the only things is the decedent has to be dead for at least 30 days for it to be used:

https://superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/llrc/prob_pbse1/

It’s probably a good idea to consult an experienced probate attorney so your boyfriend can provide more details and to look into quicker options.

Michael Gerity
Michael Gerity
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: Hello. With no will (and actually even if there was a will), the father's estate would have to go through the court process called probate. When there is a will, the probate process allows the assets in the estate to be transferred according to the instructions in the will. Without a will, the probate process has the assets in the estate transferred according to the state laws (called the laws of "intestate succession"). So, normally, a probate would have to be filed and a request made that the car be transferred.

However, Arizona does have an informal process whereby small estates can avoid the cost and complexity of going through probate, and the assets can be transferred through a process of affidavits. The process is different, and the value limitations are different as well, depending upon whether the estate contains real estate or only personal property.

It sounds like a small estate affidavit might work here to transfer the car if that's all there is in the estate, and it isn't too terribly valuable. Might be best to consult with an attorney to confirm that you can use a small estate affidavit, and get it done fast. Impound rates can swallow up the value of a car pretty quickly.

Ilene L McCauley
Ilene L McCauley
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: I am so sorry for your boyfriend's loss.

In reading your question, all I can say is sometimes small estates can be very complicated.

In Arizona you can transfer assets, including vehicles with a Small Estate Affidavit. That is used for estates with personal property, cash and vehicles, of $75,000 or less. That being said there will be a process to get control of these assets, even if all of your boyfriends brother(s) and sister(s) agree.

I strongly urge you to contact a local attorney who can guide you through this process. The law creates road blocks, but only to make certain the correct individuals get the correct inheritance.

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