Intestate Succession in Arizona
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Intestate Succession in Arizona

What happens when you pass away not having a will? Get familiar with intestacy in Arizona.

When you pass away lacking a will in the state Arizona, your assets are going to go to your closest family members under state “intestate succession” statutes. Below is information concerning the way intestate succession happens in Arizona.

Which Assets Pass by Intestate Succession

Only the assets that would’ve passed under your will are impacted by intestate succession laws. Typically, that comprises of only assets that you have sole ownership, and in your name.

A lot of valuable assets do not go through your will and aren’t impacted by intestate succession laws. Below are some instances:

  • Property that you have transferred into a living trust
  • Proceeds from life insurance
  • capital retained in a transfer-on-death account
  • capital in an IRA, 401k, or other retirement accounts
  • payable on death – POD – financial institution accounts
  • vehicles retained by transfer on death – TOD – registration, or
  • real estate retained by transfer on death – TOD – or beneficiary deed
  • property you share ownership with another person in a joint holding or as communal property having the right of survivorship.

These assets are going pass to the remaining co-owner or to the beneficiary you designated, if you have a will or not.

Who Receives What in Arizona?

Under intestate succession, who receives what is subject on if you have living child(ren), parents, or other close family members when you pass away. Below is a quick summary:

  • child(ren) but no spouse: child(ren) inherits each thing
  • spouse but no child(ren): spouse inherits each thing
  • a spouse and child(ren) from both of you: spouse inherits each thing
  • a spouse and child(ren) from you and someone that is not that spouse: spouse inherits half of your separate property but no interest in the half of the communal property that belonged to you – child(ren) inherits half of separate property and the half of the communal property that you owned
  • parents but no spouse or child(ren): parents inherit each thing
  • brothers and/or sisters but no spouse, child(ren), or parents: brothers and/or sisters inherit each thing

The Spouse’s Portion in Arizona

In the state of Arizona, when you are married and you pass away lacking a will, what your spouse receives depends partially on how both of you owned the property — as separate or communal property. Typically, communal property is property obtained when you were married, and property that is separate is property you obtained prior to marriage. There are some huge exemptions: Gifts and inheritances presented to one spouse becomes separated property, even if obtained throughout the marriage.

In Arizona, your surviving spouse is going to automatically inherit your half of the communal property when you have no child(ren) or when you have child(rens) — child(ren), grandchild(ren), or great grandchild(ren) – resulting primarily from your relationship with your surviving spouse. When you have child(ren) from different relationship, your spouse is going to automatically inherit your half of the communal property only when you retain that property as “community property with the right of survivorship.” Apart from that, your half of the communal property is going to be distributed among your children.

When you own separate property (a lot of spouses combine everything all in one and do not own any separate property) your spouse is going to inherit all or part of it. Not unlike your communal property, the size of your spouse’s portion of your separate property subject to if you have living descendants — child(ren), grandchild(ren), or great grandchild(ren) — from a prior relationship. In that case, your spouse and those descendants are going to divide your separate property.

Child(ren)’s Portion in Arizona

If you pass away lacking a will in the state of Arizona, your child(ren) are going to get an “intestate share” of your property. The portion of each your child(ren) portion is subject to how many child(ren) you have, if you’re married, and if your child(ren) also are your spouse’s child(ren).

For child(ren) to inherit from you under the statutes of intestacy, the state of Arizona must deem them legally your child(ren),. For a lot of families, this is not a confusing matter. However, it’s not always straightforward. Below are some things to take note of.

  • Adopted child(ren). Child(ren) you adopted legally are going to get an intestate portion, just as your biological child(ren) are going to.
  • Foster child(ren) and stepchild(ren). Foster child(ren) and stepchild(ren) you legally never adopted are going to not automatically get a portion.
  • Child(ren) up for adoption. Child(ren) you placed up for adoption and that were adopted legally by a different family won’t get a portion. Nevertheless, when your biological child(ren) were adopted by your spouse, that is not going to impact their intestate inheritance.
  • Posthumous child(ren). Child(ren) conceived by you but not birthed prior to your passing away are going to get a portion, if they survive at up to five days following birth.
  • Child(ren) born outside of wedlock. If you weren’t married to your child(ren)’s mother when she birthed them, they may get a portion of your estate if the court has determined that you are indeed the child(ren)’s biological father.
  • Child(ren) fathered during the marriage. Any child birthed from your spouse during your marriage is believed to be your biological child and going to get a portion of your estate.
  • Grandchild(ren). A grandchild is going to get a portion only if that grandchild’s parent (your son or daughter) is not living to receive their portion.

This can be a delicate area of the law, so when you have questions about your relationship to your parent(s) and/or child(ren), speak with an experienced attorney.

Is the State Going to Get Your Property?

When you pass away lacking a will and don’t have any family, your property is going to “escheat” into the state’s treasury. On the other hand, this very rarely occurs due to the laws being designed to pass on your property to any individual that was even vaguely related to you. For instance, your property is not going to go to the state if you leave a spouse, and/or close family members.

Other Arizona Intestate Succession Regulations

Below are a couple of other things to know about Arizona intestacy statutes.

  • Survivorship period. In order for inheriting under Arizona’s intestate succession laws, an individual must outlive you upwards of five days. Therefore, say you and your sister are in a vehicle accident and she passes away a couple of hours following you, her estate would get none of your property.
  • Half-relatives. “Half” family members get inheritances being somewhat “whole.” Family members. In other words, your sister with who you share a mother with, but not a father, is entitled to the same rights to your property as they would when you had both of them in the same manner.
  • Posthumous family members. Relatives conceived prior to — but born following — you passing away get inheritance as if they were born while you were still living, if they survive at least five days following birth.
  • Immigration status. Relatives with a right to an intestate share of your property are going to inherit if they are citizens or not, or legally in the US.


  1. Valerie Keene, A. (2018, November 29). Intestate Succession in Arizona. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from

Choose the Right Attorney in Arizona

Regardless of the choice you make, it’s important you make the best choice for you when hiring an attorney. Remember: The decisions you make now can affect your future. Ultimately, choosing the best lawyer will depend on which lawyer feels best for you and your situation.

If you want to learn about Michelle N. Ogborne and see if she is the right attorney to represent you in your collaborative divorce in Arizona, contact us today!

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