How to get info from probate files in Maricopa county?

2 Replies

Hey guys, I'm new to investing in the Phoenix area, and looking to get started with wholesaling. I want to market to probate properties, but I've been pretty overwhelmed with the process of finding the relevant information in these probate files.

I went to the county court's customer service center and was given a list of the most recent probate files and was able to use their computers to search each file's record individually. The problem is I was unable to find all of the information I was looking for - all of the research I've done online suggests I should be able to specifically ask for files that contain real estate, and can ask to see the inventories of these files to see specifically what property they contain. However, the lady working the counter told me I can't view the inventories because that's private information, which conflicts with basically everything I've read, but what could I say? She goes on to tell me that if I'm looking for property, I just have to peruse the will to see if there's any real estate specified, sometimes there will be, sometimes there won't. Of the files I got to view, not a single will had any details of specific real estate, the language was always, "devises and bequeaths any and all real and personal property" or something like that. Every now and then, I'd be able to find a death certificate, which would have the decedent's residence. This was only a fraction of the time though, and even then, I couldn't know for sure whether the decedent actually owned that property or if it was part of the file.

Does anyone have familiarity or any info on accessing the full contents of the probate records here in Maricopa county? I can't help but think that there is some way to get access to those inventories, but the clerk I spoke to didn't seem that interested in trying to help me. I want to be able to a) know for sure the lead I'm pursuing even has real estate attached to it and b) be able to reference the given property in the marketing material I send out. Do I need to contact a different location of the court? Are there alternate sources of getting this information? Would a real estate attorney be able to get me this info with easier access?

Any advice is welcome, if anyone has any insight or knowledge of how the court records work in the county.

You may want to ask the clerk for Notice of Hearing on Petition for Formal Probate and Appointment of Personal Representative.

In CA probate headings are filed as Notice of Petition to Administer Estate.

As long as you have the decedents name and case number I don't know why the clerk couldn't assist you with a file..

Matt, 

Sorry for the late reply.

Information considered "private" by the courts in Arizona is not accessible. Typically the only information you will get and be able to verify is the decedents name, the attorneys name and the name of the personal representative, though you will not get personal contact information unless they are representing themselves, "Pro Per."

If you have a relationship with a title company, you can ask them to look up the decedents name in the county where the case file is in AZ and that will give you some verification if someone with their name has property. This can be done through the county assessors website as well. I would also look through the county recorders site and search for any recent documents with the PR or decedents name. 

As for finding the personal representatives contact information, that will be search engines. You could attempt to contact them through the attorney for the estate but most of the time any correspondence you send will find its way straight into the trash can at the attorneys office.  I would also recommend that you search the address in Google to see if any of the property listing websites have information on the home or whether it is listed already. 

Once you have determined that the decedent's estate owns real estate (to the degree it is possible), send a post card or wedding invitation style card or other creative mailer to the address. Address it to the home owner and or current resident. 

Here is what I would say. "Hello John Doe, I heard this home might be for sale. Is this home for sale? My company buys 3-4 homes in this area per month. I'd like to make you an all cash offer if the home is for sale. You can reach me at (phone number) or my site at (website or squeeze page), best regards, Todd" Also, I would write this by hand so it looks like a personal invitation. 

If someone at the home reads your correspondence and they are interested, they will reach out to you. If you send this to a house not related to the case file (by accident), then it still made it into the hands of a home owner who may also need to sell, you never know. 

Being artfully vague also avoids you looking like an ambulance chaser. If a PR asks you how you knew to contact them, say "I get leads from many sources. I will research that if it is important for you to know if you like,...so, IS the home for sale?" :) 

Most of the probate training books and courses teach the strategy in county's where access to complete information is available. Some of the books were written at a time before AZ adopted the privacy controls they have in place now. Here is the great news about AZ in that regard. It's a pain in the butt to do that strategy compared to other places. Because of that, very few people do it and that is where the opportunity is. 

If you can create a systematized approach to do this that works in your business plan, then you will have a way to get deals other people don't. 

Best regards,

Todd Hurst 


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