Interviewer: As an attorney with Cholekwa Law, can you talk a little bit about what is probate? What goes through probate?

Becky: Sure. Probate is the legal process by which the probate court divides up your assets after you pass away. It is a costly process to go through the probate court and it is also a time-consuming process.

Here in Arizona we move pretty quickly. A shorter probate is probably the six to nine month range. The more complicated the issues are it could be a year and a half or even longer than that. Shorter probates probably cost a little bit less, I would say in the three to five thousand dollar range and just exponentially goes up from there based on the cost and the complexity of the probate.

One big misconception is that people believe that everything they have is going to go through the probate process. But anything you have that has any kind of beneficiary form on it. Most people are familiar with that, with their insurance policies and their retirement accounts. You open the account and they immediately ask you, “Who do you want to leave this to if you pass away?”

Anything that has a beneficiary form goes outside of the probate process and goes by those designated beneficiary forms that you have established at each institution. So, not all of their assets go through the probate process.

You do want to avoid the probate process because it is expensive and time consuming.