how to find out if I'm named in a will

2021-09-21

Is a Will Public Record in Arizona?

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After the grieving process has ended and the despair from losing someone close to you has lessened, you may find yourself ready to tackle some related paperwork, including finding out if you’re named in the will. This isn’t necessarily a difficult process, but it may require a waiting period. 

How to Find Out if You’re Named in a Will

A legally recognized will is a document that helps manage after-death affairs. Commonly, a will spells out the distribution of the deceased’s assets (i.e. who gets what). For this reason, Carson, who is expecting to be a beneficiary of his recently deceased aunt, says, “I want to know how to find out if I’m named in a will.” 

Carson was his aunt’s live-in caretaker and was verbally promised rights to the Arizona home they shared. Now, he wants to see if the promise was ever made concrete and legal. Since a will is public record in Arizona, if the estate is in probate, Carson has a few options to find out if he’s named in the will. 

    1. Wait for a call from the estate’s executor
    2. If the will is in probate, visit the county probate court, or county clerk’s office
    3. Try looking up the case online via the state’s public access case-lookup system 
    4. Residents of Maricopa County can use this site to find out if they are named in a will

Now, if Carson’s aunt had a professionally prepared estate plan, her will would not be public record, because her estate would not be in probate court. This is preferable for her beneficiaries by far. 

Judges and state officials shouldn’t be the ones deciding how an estate is distributed—that should be done by the estate holder before their passing. With a proper estate plan in place, an estate attorney will deliver copies of the will to all the beneficiaries, guardians, minor children, and anyone else deemed necessary. 

Doesn’t a Will Avoid Probate?

No, a will does not avoid probate unless special measures are taken. Some people think that their will alone is sufficient. Unfortunately, a will is simply an expression of your wishes and must go through some kind of court process before the assets can be distributed to the heirs. 

Without legal preparation, a formal proceeding in court will be required to remove the decedent’s name from the property and retitle the asset in the new owner’s name. Since the owner of the property is deceased and can no longer further explain their wishes, the probate court will make the final decisions. Depending on the complexity of an estate, and whether any disputes or claims arise, this process can take months or years. 

Estate Planning Attorney in Phoenix 

You can see how estate planning is crucial to ensuring your financial wishes are honored after your death. If Carson’s aunt had good intentions to leave him their home but failed to make it legal, Carson is in for a legal battle that may cost him dearly. 

A proper estate plan guarantees that your loved ones will be provided for in your absence. You want the maximum amount of your hard-earned assets to pass to the people you choose, not toward court fees, attorney fees, income taxes, and death taxes. Creating a well-thought-out estate plan is an act of love for your family. 

Let Phelps LaClair help you take the first steps in establishing your plan today! For a free estate planning webinar, sign up on our website. After the webinar, you’ll be able to schedule a free consultation with an estate planning attorney as our thanks for attending.

 

 

 

 

photo by Aymane Jdidi from Pixabay.com on 9/20/2021 | used under the creative commons license | no edits made

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