Heirs: Information on Intestacy

When a person dies without a Will, the heirs entitled to receive property of the decedent are determined by intestate succession set out in Title 14 of Arizona Revised Statutes.  Refer to Article 1 of Chapter Two Intestate Succession and Wills for more specific information.

  • When a person dies without a Will, he or she is said to have died intestate.
  •  The intestate property of the decedent which will pass according to succession is the property which the decedent held in his or her name alone.
  • This does not include property where the decedent named a beneficiary or property which the decedent held with another person as a joint tenant or as community property with right of survivorship; that property will pass directly to the name beneficiary or surviving tenant subject to certain rights of creditors and statutory allowances referenced below.
  • The intestate property will not include certain property which has specific contract or policy terms providing for payment to be made to specific surviving family.  Examples of this type of property can include: life insurance policies; annuity contracts; retirement benefit plans.
  • If a decedent leaves a surviving spouse, that surviving spouse is entitled to all of the decedent’s intestate property unless the decedent also left children from a prior marriage.
  • If the decedent left a surviving spouse and does have children from a prior marriage, the children from the prior marriage (who are not the children of the surviving spouse) are also entitled to receive part of the decedent’s intestate property.  See A.R.S. Section 14-2102.
  • If the decedent did not leave a surviving spouse but does have surviving descendants, those descendants are entitled to share in the intestate property. See A.R.S Section 14-2103 and following sections.

See Chart of Intestate Succession for easy reference.

  • A surviving spouse and/or minor children are entitled to certain exempt property and allowances which are set out in A.R.S. Section 14-2401 through Section 14-2405.
  • For more detail and links see Information on Exempt Property and Allowances.
  • An adopted child is treated as a natural child of the parent adopting that child and is entitled to inherit from that deceased parent.  A child who was adopted by the spouse of one of their natural parents, is also entitled to inherit from the other natural parent. See A.R.S. Section 14-2114.