What are the Different Types of Probate in Arizona?

Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone has died. During probate, the court will review the deceased person’s assets and debts, pay creditors, and distribute the remaining assets to the heirs. In Arizona, different types of probate may be used depending on the circumstances of the deceased’s estate. In this blog, we will discuss Arizona’s different types of probate and when they may be used.

Informal Probate

According to Unbiased Options Real Estate, informal probate is the most common type of probate used in Arizona. It is a simplified process that does not require much court intervention or oversight. An informal probate can be initiated by the personal representative or executor of the estate, who is usually a close family member or friend of the deceased. The personal representative must file a petition with the court, along with a death certificate and a will (if there is one). Once the petition is approved, the personal representative can start managing the estate.

There are some limitations to informal probate. For example, formal probate may be necessary if there are disputes among the heirs or creditors. Additionally, if the estate is complex, involves a large amount of money or property, or if legal issues need to be resolved, then informal probate might not suffice. In any case, having a skilled probate attorney who can help navigate the process and ensure that the deceased person’s wishes are upheld is important.

Formal Probate

Formal probate is a more complex and formal process. It is used when there are disputes among the heirs or creditors or when the estate is extensive or complex. In formal probate, the court appoints a personal representative, whom an attorney usually represents. The personal representative must follow strict rules and procedures throughout the probate process and must attend court hearings and file multiple documents with the court.

Formal probate is often more expensive than informal probate because it requires legal representation and can take longer to resolve. But it is sometimes necessary when disputes or legal issues need to be resolved.

Small Estate Probate

Small estate probate is a simplified process that is used when the estate is worth less than $50,000 and there is no real estate involved. Small estate probate is designed to make the process faster and less costly. The estate’s personal representative can file a petition with the court, a death certificate, and an affidavit that affirms the estate’s value. If the court approves the petition, the estate can be distributed to the heirs.

But even in a small estate probate, the personal representative must still pay off any creditors and resolve disputes among the heirs. This process can still require legal assistance, especially if complicated legal issues are involved.

Special Administration Probate

Special administration probate is a type of probate that is used in urgent cases. For example, if someone dies in the middle of a lawsuit, the estate’s personal representative may need to be appointed quickly to manage the lawsuit. Special administration probate can also be used if there is an urgent need to sell property or assets to pay off debts or distribute funds to the heirs.

The court will appoint a personal representative to handle these urgent matters, and once they have been resolved, the estate can be closed.

Ancillary Probate

Ancillary probate is used when the deceased person owned property in more than one state. For example, if someone owned property in Arizona and California, then two probates would need to be initiated to manage the assets in each state separately.

Ancillary probate can be more complicated and costly than other types of probate, as it requires two separate legal processes. But it is necessary when the deceased owned property in multiple states.


Probate can be a complicated and time-consuming process, but ensuring that the deceased person’s assets are distributed fairly and efficiently is necessary. In Arizona, different types of probate can be used depending on the complexity of the estate and the needs of the heirs and creditors. Understanding these different types of probate can help you navigate the process and ensure the estate is distributed according to the deceased person’s wishes. If you have questions about probate or need help with the process, it is best to consult an experienced probate attorney who can guide you.