A Formal Probate proceeding is generally required when a will or estate has contested issues, or there is a reason the probate does not readily fit within the Informal Probate process. In simple terms, a probate judge (in some cases, a Commissioner) ultimately rules on such situations and supervises the administration of the estate. Every now and then, contested issues arise during an Informal Probate and the matter has to be switched to Formal Probate. Generally speaking, an Informal Probate will cost substantially less than a Formal Probate. That’s because Formal Probate does not have any set forms or templates, whereas Informal Probate is a very specific process.
Most people are not aware that you do not have to hire an attorney to file Formal Probate documents in Arizona. Of course, whether or not to hire an attorney is your decision based on your circumstances. There are, however, certified legal document preparers that are experienced in preparing the documents for Formal Probate. You would represent yourself and speak for yourself at the hearing. Like all court actions, there is a process and requirement for every type action filed. An experienced probate legal document preparer will understand the process and know the required documents.
To our knowledge, there is no such thing as a “Formal Probate Do it Yourself Kit”. Superior Court’s self help center does not provide any information on Formal Probate documents and process. Generally, most people don’t know where to turn so it is natural they proceed with hiring legal counsel.
Formal Probate document preparation and related services range around $800 to $1200, depending on the scope and challenges involved. The court filing fee and outside fees (such as publication) are additional costs. Currently, Maricopa County Superior Court’s filing fee is $251.00. Publication in Maricopa County will run around $37 per publication (typically two times). The fees vary by Arizona County.
Most attorneys will start at $3,500 or more to get started. There may be some attorneys that charge less. If you are going to retain legal counsel it is a good idea to interview several lawyers and find one that you are comfortable with and have confidence in.
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Arizona Legal EASE, Inc. and Arizona Probate Services are Arizona certified legal document preparers. We provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide legal advice or a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.