When a person dies owning title property, whether it be bank accounts, a car, or real estate, there are certain procedures that must be followed to transfer title to the deceased person’s heirs. Assuming the property was owned individually and did not have a designated beneficiary, title may be transferred to heirs either through probate or by completion of a Personal Property Affidavit or a Real Property Affidavit.
A probate, whether formal or informal, is a paperwork intensive proceeding with a number of procedural hoops that must be jumped through. Further, a probate takes time. The shortest possible probate will take at least four months to complete. However, probates often take much longer than four months.
Arizona law provides an alternative to probate when the total value of assets title to a deceased individual is below a certain threshold. In September, a revised statute went into effect that increased the threshold. As of September 13, 2013, the threshold was raised to $75,000 (up from $50,000) for personal property (i.e. non-real estate) and to $100,000 (up from $75,000) for real estate. This means that if the value of all personal property titled to a deceased person, individually, does not exceed $75,000.00, a Personal Property Affidavit may be used to collect the property and transfer it to the heirs. For real estate, a Real Property Affidavit may be used to transfer title on real estate to a deceased person’s heirs as long as the value of the equity in the real estate does not exceed $100,000.
Use of the Affidavit is preferable to probate in that it is quicker and requires less paperwork. The increase in the threshold will be a good tool for many Arizona families. However, be aware that the value thresholds are not the only requirements for utilizing an Affidavit to transfer title. There are additional terms that must be met when attempting to use an affidavit to transfer title on a deceased person’s property. So, it is important to work with an experienced estate attorney to make sure that the Affidavit is best option to transfer title on your loved one’s property, and if so, that the affidavits are completed correctly and in compliance with Arizona law.