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Will Probate Meaning: The Basics of Wills and Probate

Photo of a judge's gavel and a book about the will probate meaning.

When a loved one passes away, their assets and property must be distributed according to their wishes. This process is known as probate. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, this guide will explain the will probate meaning and provide an overview of the legal process involved in distributing assets after a loved one’s death.

What is a will and why is it important?

A will is a legal document that outlines a person’s wishes for the distribution of their assets after they pass away. It is important because it ensures that a person’s assets are distributed according to their wishes and can help prevent disputes among family members. Without a will, the distribution of assets will be determined by state law, which may not align with the deceased person’s wishes.

What is probate and how does it work?

Probate is the legal process of distributing a deceased person’s assets according to their will or state law if there is no will. The process involves validating the will, identifying and valuing the assets, paying any outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. The probate court oversees the process and ensures that everything is done according to the law. The length and complexity of the probate process can vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate, as well as any disputes that may arise among family members.

Who is involved in the probate process?

The probate process involves several parties, including the executor of the will (called a personal representative in Arizona), the probate court, and any beneficiaries named in the will. The executor is responsible for managing the estate and ensuring that the deceased person’s wishes are carried out. The probate court oversees the process and ensures that everything is done according to the law. Beneficiaries are the individuals or organizations named in the will who will receive the deceased person’s assets. In some cases, there may also be creditors or other parties involved in the probate process.

How long does probate take?

The length of time it takes to complete the probate process can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the estate, the number of beneficiaries involved, and any disputes that may arise. In general, probate can take anywhere from several months to several years to complete. It’s important to work with an experienced probate attorney who can guide you through the process and help ensure that everything is done correctly and efficiently.

What happens if there is no will?

If a person dies without a will, their assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy in their state. This means that the court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate and distribute assets to the deceased person’s heirs. The distribution of assets will typically follow a set order, starting with the deceased person’s spouse and children, and then moving on to other relatives if there are no immediate family members. It’s important to note that without a will, the deceased person has no say in how their assets are distributed, which can lead to disputes among family members.

Summary of Will Probate Meaning

Probate refers to the legal process that occurs after someone’s death to validate and administer their will, or in the absence of a will, to distribute their assets according to the applicable laws of inheritance. It involves the court overseeing the settlement of the deceased person’s estate, ensuring that debts and taxes are paid, and transferring the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries or heirs. During probate, the court reviews the will’s authenticity, appoints an executor (personal representative) to manage the estate, and resolves any disputes that may arise. The probate process aims to provide a transparent and orderly transfer of property and assets, while safeguarding the rights of all parties involved.

Let Us Help You With Your Probate.

You don’t need to figure everything out on your own. A probate lawyer can usually pay for himself. That’s because under Arizona law, a lawyer get gets paid even before other creditors. As a result, the lawyer may be able to help you settle claims for a discount. More importantly, a good probate lawyer can help you avoid mistakes that could cost you money. Give us a call today at 602-443-4888 so we can guide you through the process. We’re here to help.


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.