Arizona Beneficiary Notification Law

By Stephanie Reid

Under Arizona law, beneficiaries, sometimes referred to as heirs, must be notified as to nearly every transaction related to an estate. When there's a will, the executor is responsible for providing notice to all interested parties. The same is true for the trustee in the context of a trust. If either an executor or trustee fails to notify beneficiaries about transactions or litigation involving the estate, each could be personally liable for any financial harm caused by their failure to follow notification regulations.

Under Arizona law, beneficiaries, sometimes referred to as heirs, must be notified as to nearly every transaction related to an estate. When there's a will, the executor is responsible for providing notice to all interested parties. The same is true for the trustee in the context of a trust. If either an executor or trustee fails to notify beneficiaries about transactions or litigation involving the estate, each could be personally liable for any financial harm caused by their failure to follow notification regulations.

Formal Testacy Notice Requirements

A formal testacy proceeding occurs in Arizona when an interested party files a petition to contest either the validity of the will or the fact the decedent is actually dead. In the event of a formal testacy proceeding, the petitioner raising the issue must notify all interested beneficiaries of any upcoming hearings at least 14 days prior to the date set for the proceeding. Notification may be accomplished by mailing copies of the pleadings to each party, serving each party individually or, in the event a beneficiary who cannot be located, publishing the details of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation at least three times prior to the hearing date.

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Informal Probate Notice Requirements

Informal probate is the process through which an estate is processed pursuant to a valid will. Informal probate does not involve any objections or contests by interested parties. However, the executor is still under the requirement to notify beneficiaries that the will has been submitted to probate within 30 days following its admission. The notification must indicate the court where the will is being probated as well as an explanation that the beneficiary has four months within which to commence a formal testacy proceeding. This information must be mailed or hand delivered to each beneficiary whose address is reasonably available to the executor.

Notice of Litigation

In the event the estate is subject to litigation of any kind, all beneficiaries and interested parties must receive notice of the date and time of any hearing or trial involving the estate. As with formal testacy proceedings, estate litigation notices may be accomplished by mailing the pleadings to the beneficiaries, hand delivering the pleadings or publishing the details of any upcoming hearing in a newspaper at least three times prior to the date of the proceeding.

Non-Probate Transfers

If an estate is organized under a trust, the trustee is responsible for distributing property upon the death of the trust creator, also known as the grantor. These transfers are known as "non-probate transfers" under Arizona law because trusts are not subject to the probate procedure. Trusts are governed primarily by the language contained in the trust agreement, which usually requires the trustee to provide notice to beneficiaries within a reasonable time following the grantor's death. Also, the trustee must keep beneficiaries reasonably informed about the administration of the trust and any material facts necessary to protect their financial interests. Trustees must provide beneficiaries with copies of the trust agreement as well as an annual report as to the status of trust property.

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How to Get Notified if You're an Heir to a Trust

References

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California Laws on Notices for a Probate Will

Historically, probate described the process of proving that the requirements of creating a will were satisfied. In modern practice, however, the term is commonly used to describe the entire court process of administering a deceased person’s estate. Probate in California is often required whether a person died with or without a will. When probating a will, a number of notices are required to “interested persons.” The notices give such individuals the opportunity to state any claims they may have to the decedent's property before the assets are ultimately distributed under the instructions of the will.

Can a Trust Be Viewed by Beneficiaries Before the Death of the Testator?

Beneficiaries of a trust often want to know what they stand to inherit upon the death of the person who established the trust, sometimes called a testator, even before the testator dies. The testator is always free to disclose the terms of the trust to the beneficiaries. If the testator loses competency, the "successor trustee" takes over and manages the property. Compelling a successor trustee to disclose the terms of the trust to the beneficiaries can be difficult, but there are methods of doing so in certain circumstances.

Trust Account Laws for the Beneficiary's Rights in California

California law imposes a number of requirements for creating and handling a living trust. A living trust allows a person to transfer property to an intangible entity for the benefit of one or more persons. The person in charge of distributing the trust property is called the trustee. The trustee is responsible to the trust beneficiaries regarding the trust, and must comply with California’s rules when dealing with the trust. Included in this set of rules is the duty to provide the trust beneficiaries with an accounting.

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