Volume 19, Number 5

The Bridge


Financial Information
Catherine Scrivano CRPC, CRC, CEP

Avoiding Probate Through
Beneficiary Designations

I'm walking

Many people are surprised to learn that they can pass their estates to heirs free of probate proceedings, without drafting expensive trusts or other complicated estate plans. One of the newest tools in Arizona is the Beneficiary Deed, which applies to real property. In April 2001, the Governor of Arizona signed a law that created a new type of Arizona real property deed known as the Arizona Beneficiary deed. By signing and recording an Arizona Beneficiary Deed, owners of real estate located in Arizona may transfer their interest in the real estate to people or entities on the owner's death. The interest in real property conveyed by Beneficiary Deed does not take effect until the death of the owner, at which time that interest transfers automatically by law to the beneficiaries. No probate is required.

Benefits of an Arizona Beneficiary Deed

Property transferred by a Beneficiary Deed avoids the cost and delay of probate because the property is not part of the probate estate of the deceased owner. Avoiding probate can save a family $1,500 to $3,000 or more in legal fees.

Some Draw Backs to Using an Arizona Beneficiary Deed

The above list is not all-inclusive. We recommend that you consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer to discuss the pros and cons of using an Arizona Beneficiary Deed versus a comprehensive estate plan that includes a will and living trust. It may be that for you, a trust might be a better vehicle to accomplish your estate planning objectives.

We are glad to talk to you about beneficiary designations, titling and other estate planning issues.