Probate is the process of proving a will. This is done in the superior courts of the various counties in the state of Arizona. A probate requires the finding of the original copy of a person’s will, along with the other documentation and paperwork. If they do not have that original copy, then even though somebody has prepared a will, it’s presumed that the person had destroyed the original copy because they didn’t like it. Unless it can be shown that it was destroyed inadvertently, like in a house fire or something, that’s the presumption, in which case they’re said to have died “intestate,” which is somebody who dies without a will.
But the probate process requires the filing of a legal action in the superior court, which includes the paying of a filing fee (somewhere between $350 and $400). It requires getting approval of the court for the appointment of a person to serve as a personal representative. In other states it’s called an executor, but it’s the same function.
The purpose of the probate process is to prove the will, meaning prove that it is in fact the person’s will, then to carry out the stated purposes within the will. If a person has a will, then it says who they want to be their personal representative. If that person is available, the court will ordinarily appoint them unless somebody else objects and has good cause why that person shouldn’t be the personal representative. If the person does not have a will, the Arizona statutes basically spell out how an estate is to be distributed. Otherwise, in a will, you can leave your money to whomever you want. Now, if you are not careful in making your will, others can make claims on your estate. For example, if you have a child and you fail to mention that you’re excluding them or that you’re only giving them a certain amount of something from your estate, that child could make a claim that said that you forgot about them, and they could be recognized as a pretermitted heir. Therefore they have a right to a certain portion of your estate.