Intestate Succession in Arizona

What happens if you die without a will? Learn about intestacy in Arizona.

Updated by , Attorney · George Mason University Law School

If you die without a will in Arizona, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state "intestate succession" laws. Here are some details about how intestate succession works in Arizona.

Which Assets Pass by Intestate Succession

Only assets that pass through probate are affected by intestate succession laws. Many valuable assets don't go through probate and therefore aren't affected by intestate succession laws. Here are some examples:

  • property you've transferred to a living trust
  • life insurance proceeds with a named beneficiary
  • funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account with a named beneficiary
  • securities held in a transfer-on-death account
  • real estate for which you have a transfer on death deed
  • vehicles for which you have a transfer on death registration
  • payable-on-death bank accounts, or
  • property you own with someone else in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety.

These assets will pass to the surviving co-owner or to the beneficiary you named, whether or not you have a will. However, if you don't have a will and none of the named beneficiaries are alive to take the property, then the property could end up being transferred according to intestate succession.

To learn more about these types of assets, go to the How to Avoid Probate section of or read about Avoiding Probate in Arizona.

Who Gets What in Arizona?

Under intestate succession, who gets what depends on whether or not you have living children, parents, or other close relatives when you die. Here's a quick overview:

If you die with:

here's what happens:

children but no spouse children inherit everything
spouse but no descendants spouse inherits everything
a spouse and descendants from you and that spouse spouse inherits everything
a spouse and descendants from you and someone other than that spouse spouse inherits 1/2 of your separate property but no interest in the 1/2 of the community property that belonged to you

children inherit 1/2 of separate property and the 1/2 of the community property that belonged to you
parents but no spouse or descendants parents inherit everything
siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents siblings inherit everything

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 14-2102; 14-2103 (2023).)

The Spouse's Share in Arizona

In Arizona, if you are married and you die without a will, what your spouse gets depends in part on how the two of you owned your property—as separate property or community property. Generally, community property is property acquired while you were married, and separate property is property you acquired before marriage. There are a couple of big exceptions: Gifts and inheritances given to one spouse are separate property, even if acquired during marriage.

If you want to learn more about how community property works, read Separate and Community Property During Marriage: Who Owns What?

You can find Arizona's community property laws here: Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 25-211 to 25-218.

In Arizona, your surviving spouse will automatically inherit your half of the community property if you have no descendants or if you have descendants—children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren—resulting only from your relationship with your surviving spouse. If you have descendants from another relationship, your spouse will automatically inherit your half of the community property only if you hold that property as "community property with the right of survivorship." Otherwise, your half of the community property will be distributed among your descendants. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2102 (2023).)

If you have separate property (many spouses mix everything together and don't have any separate property) your spouse will inherit all or a portion of it. As with your community property, the size of your spouse's share of your separate property depends on whether or not you have living descendants—children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren—from a previous relationship. If you do, those descendants and your spouse will share your separate property.

Children's Shares in Arizona

If you die without a will in Arizona, your children will receive an "intestate share" of your property. The size of each child's share depends on how many children you have, whether you are married, and whether your children are also your spouse's children. (See the table above.)

For children to inherit from you under the laws of intestacy, the state of Arizona must consider them your children, legally. For many families, this is not a confusing issue. But it's not always clear. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Adopted children. Children you legally adopted will receive an intestate share, just as your biological children do. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2114 (2023).)
  • Foster children and stepchildren. Foster children and stepchildren you never legally adopted will not automatically receive a share.
  • Children placed for adoption. Children you placed for adoption and who were legally adopted by another family will not receive a share. However, if your biological children were adopted by your spouse, that won't affect their intestate inheritance. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2114 (2023).)
  • Posthumous children. Children conceived by you but not born before your death will receive a share, as long as they survive at least 120 hours after birth. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2108 (2023).)
  • Children born outside of marriage. If you were not married to your children's mother when she gave birth to them, they will receive a share of your estate unless there is a dispute about you being the children's parent. Even then, a court can establish that you are in fact the children's parent. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2114 (2023).)
  • Children born during your marriage. Any child born to your wife during your marriage is assumed to be your child and will receive a share of your estate. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-814 (2023).)
  • Grandchildren. A grandchild will receive a share only if that grandchild's parent (your son or daughter) is not alive to receive his or her share. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 14-2103; 14-2106 (2023).)

This can be a tricky area of the law, so if you have questions about your relationship to your parent or child, get help from an experienced attorney.

Will the State Get Your Property?

If you die without a will and don't have any family, your property will "escheat" into the state's coffers. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2105 (2023).)

However, this very rarely happens because the laws are designed to get your property to anyone who was even remotely related to you. For example, your property won't go to the state if you leave a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles or cousins.

Other Arizona Intestate Succession Rules

Here are a few other things to know about Arizona intestacy laws.

  • Survivorship period. To inherit under Arizona's intestate succession statutes, a person must outlive you by 120 hours. So, if you and your brother are in a car accident and he dies a few hours after you do, his estate would not receive any of your property. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2104 (2023).)
  • Half-relatives. "Half" relatives inherit as if they were "whole." That is, your sister with whom you share a father, but not a mother, has the same right to your property as she would if you had both parents in common. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2107 (2023).)
  • Posthumous relatives. Relatives conceived before—but born after—you die inherit as if they had been born while you were alive, as long as they survive at least 120 hours after birth. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2108 (2023).)
  • Immigration status. Relatives entitled to an intestate share of your property will inherit whether or not they are citizens or legally in the United States. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2111 (2023).)

Learn More

To learn more about intestate succession, read How an Estate Is Settled If There's No Will.

You can find Arizona's intestate succession laws here: Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 14-2101 to 14-2114.

For more about estate planning, go to the Wills, Trusts & Probate section of

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