Inheriting of Property After A Death

Inheriting of Property After A Death

When dealing with a death of a loved one or friend, it’s inherently a difficult time in your life. One of the most important items to be prepared for is the possibility of the inheriting of property after a death. Most of us believe, and for good reason, that a Will or a probate will handle this for us, and sometimes it does. Usually, however, there will be steps and procedures that must be followed in order to transfer joint tenancy property into your name alone (or with other surviving tenants/owners).  Both personal property or real property can have a joint tenant or a named beneficiary.

Inheriting Property in Arizona

Any joint tenancy property held together with a spouse or other individual is passed to the surviving spouse or other joint owner. There is no need for a probate to transfer the property, this is called a joint tenancy “with rights of survivorship”.  This form of transfer can make things simple and uncomplicated.  Many individuals own property in this form.  Interestingly enough though, joint tenancy controls over a Will or Trust. Therefore, the joint holder owns all right to the property even if the Will or Trust says something different.

For most assets held in joint tenancy, the institution or agency where the joint tenancy property is held or registered must be notified of the change in ownership;  such as bank accounts, stock accounts, automobile or boat titles, real property. To claim property, the survivor must submit or record documents with the appropriate institution or government agency to make it official. The institution which holds personal property held in the names of joint owners will provide forms and instructions to you so that you can place the property into your name. You will need to contact that institution after a death has occurred; it will require submission of a certified death certificate in addition to the forms which it provides to you.  Real property interests held in joint tenancy is different and requires that an Affidavit be recorded to attest that an owner has passed and show who the surviving tenant or tenants are.  The affidavit must contain certain criteria required by statute, including:

  • A legal description of the property
  • A statement that the property was held in joint tenancy
  • The legal name, and date of death of deceased owner
  • The name of the surviving owner(s)
  • A certified copy of the death certificate

To find the proper documentation and process information for the state of Arizona go to our legal form library.