My father passed away 2 weeks ago, I found a letter that he had written that said he left everything to me. The note was dated 5 days before he passed away, but was not notarized. My father didnt have much just the home that we lived in together and his vehicles. No extra ins. policies or savings accounts. I do have 2 step sisters and they both have told me they are not going to contest the letter. So I want to know if I have to go through probate? And what is the next step to start getting his affairs handled?
Arizona recognizes holographic wills. My only concern is that you said the letter appoints you as power of attorney. That is generally a term for life time control of assets. The letter needs to be looked at by a probate attorney to confirm it qualifies as a Will. If so, you can probate the Will to have title to your dad's property to pass to you. You need to consult with an Arizona probate attorney.
A will that does not comply with section 14-2502 is valid as a holographic will, whether or not witnessed, if the signature and the material provisions are in the handwriting of the testator.
Arizona Requirements for a Will - RS, Section 14-2503
The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.
Family Law Attorney
I am sorry for your loss. The document that your father left is recognized as a holographic will and is valid. If the value of the home is under $75,000 (value meaning cash value per the assessor minus any liens and encumbrances against the property), the property can be transferred by Affidavit. Similarly, if the personal property is valued under $50,000, it also can be transferred to you by an Affidavit. I do not know if Tucson has a self-service center, but you can go to the online self-service center for Maricopa County Superior Court and look up the forms and instructions for Probate-Small Estate, to see how you can handle the matter yourself.
Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.
Estate Planning Attorney
Sounds as though it may qualify as a holographic will and per the other attorney who answered AZ recognizes such wills. I would contact the local office to see if they can assist and you can determine if you need an attorney.
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/
I agree with my colleagues. You have received good advice, thus far. You will need a probate attorney to assist you with the probate process, however. Probate IS needed, in order to get title to the home transferred from your father's estate to you.
***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!