Arizona Last Will and Testament

Arizona Last Will and Testament

Last updated February 3rd, 2024

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An Arizona last will and testament is a legal document that allows a person to communicate their wishes as to how their property and assets should be distributed after their death. A will also allows the testator (person who created the will) to appoint a personal representative who will manage the estate until its final distribution.

Any person of sound mind and at least 18 years of age can make a will.[1]

Probate Process in Arizona (13 steps)

Probate is a required process whereby the court proves a will and oversees the administration of an estate. In Arizona, probate proceedings must be initiated within two years of an individual’s death.[6] The subsequent steps provide instructions for going through an informal probate process, which is the most common type of probate.

  1. Non-Licensed Fiduciary
  2. Court Forms
  3. Personal Representative Bond
  4. File Court Forms
  5. Notice of Application
  6. Court Review
  7. Notice to Interested Persons
  8. Notice to Creditors
  9. Proof of Notice
  10. Inventory and Appraisement
  11. Debts and Taxes
  12. Accounting
  13. Distribution and Closing the Estate

1. Non-Licensed Fiduciary (If Applicable)

If the personal representative, whether named in the will or appointed by the heirs, is not a licensed fiduciary, they must undergo the Supreme Court-mandated Personal Representative Training Module.[7] Only after completing this training may the individual handle the decedent’s estate and, eventually, distribute the assets according to the will. If the personal representative is already a licensed fiduciary, this step can be skipped.

2. Court Forms

If the estate has less than $75,000 in personal property and $100,000 in real estate, a successor of the decedent can bypass the probate process by filing a Small Estate Affidavit.[8]

In order to assume the role of personal representative, a person must have all other individuals who could act as the representative sign this Waiver of Right to Appointment and Consent. Then, to commence informal probate proceedings, the personal representative must complete the following court forms:

3. Personal Representative Bond (If Applicable)

A personal representative bond is issued to protect the beneficiaries of the estate from the representative acting negligently or not in the beneficiaries’ interest. The amount of the bond will be determined by the will or by calculating the total value of the state plus one year of estimated income from the estate minus encumbrances.[9]

If the beneficiaries and devisees under the will are willing to let the personal representative act on behalf of the estate without bond, they must all sign a Waiver of Bond form. If the will states that no personal representative bond is required, then the Waiver of Bond is not required.

4. File Court Forms

All forms mentioned in steps 2 and 3 can be filed with the Superior Court in the county where the decedent died. Copies of the forms should be made for each interested party and for the representative to keep for their records. The base filing fee for informal probate is currently $164, not including the cost of making certified copies of documents, if applicable.[10]

5. Notice of Application

Once the personal representative has applied for their appointment and for the probate of the will, they must complete a Notice of Application in Informal Proceeding. This form and a copy of the Application for Informal Probate must be mailed or delivered to all interested parties (including family members, beneficiaries, heirs, creditors, etc.) using one of the following methods:

  • Personal Service – This method can be achieved by paying a registered process server or the sheriff’s office to serve the documents to each interested party. They will provide the representative with an Affidavit of Service.
  • Mail or Hand-Delivery – The documents can be delivered in person by the representative or someone on their behalf, in which case an Acceptance of Service must be completed by the receiving party. Or the documents can be sent by first-class mail or certified mail with return receipt.

If an interested person cannot be found, the personal representative must publish the notice once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper that circulates in the county where the application was filed. The newspaper will supply an Affidavit of Publication after the final publication.

Once those tasks are complete, a Proof of Mailing of Notice of Application and a Declaration Supporting Publication must be filed with the court along with any Affidavits of Service, Acceptance of Service forms, or Affidavits of Publication.

6. Court Review

If everything was filed properly and there are no objections to the probate of the will, the court clerk (also known as a probate registrar) will complete the following tasks:

  • Sign the Statement of Informal Appointment
  • Submit the Will
  • Issue the Letters and Acceptance of Appointment
  • Sign the Order to Personal Representative

7. Notice to Interested Persons

Now that the probate process has started, all interested parties must be notified that the will was accepted to probate and the representative was appointed by the court. The representative must complete the Notice of Informal Probate and Appointment of Personal Representative, attach a copy of the will, and send the documents to all parties within 10 days of their appointment using one of the methods covered in step 5.

8. Notice to Creditors

The personal representative must notify all known creditors of the decedent that probate on the estate has started.[11] The Notice to Creditors shall be sent to all creditors stating that they have four months to make any claims against the estate.

In addition to sending the notice directly to creditors, the notice must be published in a county newspaper for three consecutive weeks. The newspaper will issue an Affidavit of Publication that must be filed with the court (see next step).

9. Proof of Notice

Once all notices have been sent and published accordingly, the personal representative must complete the following forms:

These documents, along with Affidavits of Service, Acceptance of Service forms, or Affidavits of Publication, must be filed with the court.

10. Inventory and Appraisement

The personal representative has 90 days from the order of their appointment to complete an Inventory and Appraisement of Property for the estate.[12] The representative may wish to hire an appraiser to determine the value of certain assets if they are having difficulty establishing accurate estimates.

The Inventory and Appraisement form should be filed with the court and sent to any interested party who requests it. The personal representative can skip the court filing if they send a copy of the inventory to every interested party and complete the proof of mailing/delivery section of the form.

11. Debts and Taxes

Before the assets of the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries, all expenses have to be settled. This includes costs of administration, funeral expenses, payments to creditors, bills and mortgage payments, and estate taxes. Furthermore, the personal representative must file the appropriate individual and estate tax returns; typically IRS Form 1040 and, if the estate is big enough, IRS Form 706 and Form 1041.[13]

12. Accounting

The personal representative can now summarize all the assets of the estate by completing the Final Accounting for Informal Probate form. A copy of the Final Accounting must be sent to each beneficiary so they can look it over and ask questions or protest part of the summary.

If there are no objections to the accounting, each beneficiary must sign a Waiver of Filing Account, which shall be filed by the personal representative.* This enables the representative to distribute the assets and close the estate without having to file the Final Accounting with the court.

*This form is for Yavapai County; the personal representative will have to obtain the appropriate form from their court clerk if they are filing in another county. 

13. Distribution and Closing the Estate

When all heirs and devisees have approved the account of the estate, the personal representative can transfer the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the will’s instructions. To properly convey real property, they must complete and file with their local County Recorder an Instrument or Deed of Distribution.

After distribution, a Closing Statement and Proof of Mailing must be completed, which cannot be earlier than four months after the representative was appointed (to allow for claims to be submitted). A copy of the Closing Statement should be sent to all interested parties and filed with the court. The personal representative’s appointment will automatically terminate one year after the Closing Statement was filed as long as no proceedings materialize.[14]


  1. ARS § 14-2501
  2. ARS § 12-2503
  3. ARS § 14-2507
  4. ARS § 14-2502
  5. ARS § 14-2505
  6. ARS § 14-3108
  7. Non-Licensed Fiduciaries Training
  8. ARS § 14-3971
  9. ARS § 14-3604
  10. Arizona Superior Court Filing Fees
  11. ARS § 14-3801
  12. ARS § 14-3706
  13. IRS Estate Tax Threshold
  14. ARS § 14-3933