What Happens When Someone Dies Without A Will?

Learn what happens when someone dies without a will in Arizona.

If there is no will, does all the decedent’s property go to the State of Arizona? What happens?   This is a question that is asked frequently. Fortunately, in Arizona, property of a decedent rarely goes to the state. Our statutes provide for a wide pool of family members who are potential heirs.

ARS §14-2102 gives preference to a surviving spouse who normally inherits the entire estate provided that any children are the issue of both the decedent and the surviving spouse. Where there are children from a different relationship, the estate is divided between the surviving spouse and the children.

ARS §14-2103 determines what happens if there is no surviving spouse. In that event, a decedent’s estate is distributed as follows:

  1. To the descendants of the decedent, if any exist;
  2. Where there are no descendants, the estate passes to the parents or surviving parent of the decedent;
  3. Where no parent survives, the estate goes to the descendants of the parents;
  4. If the parents have no surviving descendants, then the estate goes to any surviving grandparent or, if none, to the surviving descendants of the grandparents.

If this increasingly wide net fails to produce an heir, ARS §14-2105 determines what happens. Where no one is lawfully entitled to make a claim to an estate, the estate property will, as a last resort, go to the State of Arizona.

When faced with any question concerning an estate or its property, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced Probate attorney before making decisions.

The lawyers at Platt and Westby, P.C. have been practicing in the area of Probate Law and Estate Administration for over 40 years. Contact any of our Probate lawyers at 602-277-4441 or use the e-mail contact utility on our website at www.plattwestby.com to schedule a no-fee initial conference concerning any Probate or Estate matter. We will answer your questions and, where appropriate, suggest potential solutions.

Platt and Westby, P.C. has offices in Phoenix, Arrowhead, Avondale, Scottsdale and Gilbert, Arizona.