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Arizona Inheritance Laws

Arizona Inheritance Laws

When someone passes away in Arizona, the Arizona inheritance laws determine who has the right to receive the deceased person’s estate. These rules cover how the estate is distributed. They may include provisions for spouses, children, and other family members or loved ones.

Arizona Inheritance Laws With a Will

If your deceased loved one died with a valid Last Will and Testament, then the terms of that will should control who gets what. However, there are numerous exceptions. It’s best to talk to an attorney to make sure you know how to interpret the will. (Call us at 602-443-4888. We will give you clarity on what is supposed to happen.)

Arizona Inheritance Laws Without a Will (and the deceased person was married)

If a person dies without a valid will (see above for what makes a will valid), that means they died “intestate.” The court will appoint an executor to administer the estate and pay the estate’s debts and expenses. The court will also divide the estate’s assets according to Arizona inheritance laws.

Person dies with only a spouse and no children.

If a person was married when he or she dies, and that person has no children, then the spouse gets everything. See A.R.S. Section 14-2102.

The deceased person had a spouse and children from prior relationship.

When someone dies leaving a spouse and children from a prior relationship, the property gets split. Basically, the surviving spouse gets their one half of the community property. The other half of community property goes to the stepchildren. The separate property gets split 50-50.

How assets get divided among descendants.

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The person who died was married, and had children in common with that spouse.

If there was no will, the spouse gets everything in this case.

Person dies without a spouse, but with children.

If your spouse is not alive, your estate will pass to your children in equal shares. You should consult an attorney to determine exactly how your estate will be divided if you do not have a will.

If the deceased person has a child who has already died, and that child had children, then grandchildren take a share. 

Yes this is confusing. If you have a question, just call us at 602-443-4888.

Person dies without a spouse or children.

In this case, the estate property will be distributed according to Arizona’s applicable intestate succession laws.

Click here to view a “Table of Arizona Heirship.”

Interestingly, in Arizona very remote relatives do not inherit. You basically work your way up to the deceased person’s grandparents and then look for descendants of those grandparents. You don’t go further up (to great grandparents, for example).

If there are no heirs, as defined by Arizona law, then the estate will go to the State of Arizona.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies to transfer their assets to their heirs or beneficiaries. The process involves validating the deceased person’s will (if they have one), identifying and valuing their assets, paying any outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

Probate Means Going to Court.

Probate typically begins when the executor named in the will files a petition with the court to open probate. If there is no will, a court-appointed administrator will oversee the probate process. The court then appoints someone to act as the personal representative of the estate, who is responsible for managing the estate’s affairs during the probate process.

During probate, the personal representative must identify and value all of the deceased person’s assets, including any property, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings. They must also notify creditors and pay any outstanding debts, taxes, or other expenses of the estate.

Once all debts have been paid, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or the state’s intestacy laws if there is no will.

Pros and Cons of Probate.

The probate process can be time-consuming and expensive. It varies depending on the size of the estate, the complexity of the assets, and any disputes or challenges that may arise during the process. However, probate is an important legal process that ensures that the deceased person’s wishes are carried out and that their assets are distributed fairly to their heirs or beneficiaries.

Is There Anything That May Prevent Family Members from Receiving Their Inheritance?

There are instances in which family members may be prevented from receiving their inheritance. According to Arizona law, creditors of the deceased have a legal claim to property before distribution takes place. In addition, if the decedent has debt that is owed to the government or other agencies, those debts may need to be paid prior to any inheritance being distributed.


Figuring out who counts as a descendant and understanding Arizona next-of-kin laws can get confusing. If you have questions about whether you are an eligible heir to an estate, it’s best to get advice from a knowledgeable lawyer.

What To Do If You Need Help

Arizona inheritance laws are full of caveats and exceptions. Knowing how to settle an estate and ensure that assets and property get distributed properly is no easy task. Let a skilled estate planning lawyer from Sudden Wealth Protection Law, PLC help. We can help you understand your rights to property under the state’s inheritance laws. In that way, you can make sure that your loved one’s wishes are carried out properly.

For specific advice about your case, give us a call at 602-443-4888. Or fill out our convenient contact form.


Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.