Dying Without a Will in Arizona

Laws of Intestacy Succession in Arizona

Snow on Sedona's Red Rocks. Credit: 2006 Joni of Airbrush by Joni

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

When an Arizona resident or a person who owns real estate located in Arizona dies without having made a Last Will and Testament, the intestacy succession laws found in the Title 14 of the Arizona Revised Statutes will dictate who inherits the deceased person's Arizona probate estate.

Below is a summary of the Arizona intestacy succession laws in various situations.

Deceased Person is Survived by a Spouse and/or Descendants and/or Parents and/or Siblings

Here is what will happen under the Arizona intestacy laws if the deceased person is survived by a spouse and/or descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.), and/or parents, and/or siblings:

  • Survived by a spouse and children from the marriage - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit all of the deceased spouse's probate estate.
  • Survived by a spouse and children who are not the children of the surviving spouse -  In this case, the surviving spouse will only inherit the deceased spouse's separate property and the children will inherit the other half of the separate property and all of the deceased spouse's community property.
  • Survived by a spouse and no descendants, parents or siblings - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased spouse's entire probate estate.
  • Survived by descendants and no spouse - In this case, the deceased person's descendants will inherit the entire probate estate, per stirpes.
  • Survived by a parent or parents and no spouse or descendants - In this case, the parents will inherit the entire estate in equal shares or the surviving parent will inherit the entire estate.
  • Survived by a sibling or siblings and no parents, spouse or descendants - In this case, the siblings will inherit the entire estate, ​per stirpes.

Deceased Person is Not Survived by a Spouse, Descendants, Parents or Siblings

If the deceased person dies without a will and is not survived by a spouse, descendants, parents or siblings, then the deceased person's property will pass to nieces and nephews, if any, otherwise to grandparents, aunts or uncles, great uncles or aunts, cousins of any degree, or the children, parents, or siblings of a predeceased spouse.

In the unlikely circumstance that the deceased person is not survived by any family members as described above, then the entire probate estate will escheat to the State of Arizona.

What Will You Inherit From an Arizona Intestate Estate?

So exactly what will you inherit if your relative dies without leaving a Last Will and Testament and the relative was a resident of Arizona or owned real estate located in Arizona? Even if you determine based on the information presented above that you are entitled to an intestate share of your relative's estate, you may very well not inherit anything. Why? Because your relative may have left all non-probate property or the debts your relative owed at the time of death may exceed the value of the probate estate which will make the estate insolvent.

If you are not sure of your legal rights as an intestate heir in Arizona, then consult with an Arizona probate attorney to be sure.