The Probate


The commentary on Probate #3722 of the Estate of Antonio C. Soza, Deceased, has been reconstructed entirely from Court records on file with the Superior Court, Pima County, State of Arizona. Personal interviews with family members were not conducted nor sought. The Court records speak for themselves as to sequence of events during Court proceedings.

Out of deference to and sensitive to the feelings of any living person(s) that may have been close to these probate events, critical editorial comments on Court records are avoided.

Antonio died intestate, on June 13, 1915 and his probate was opened on November 14, 1925. It is unclear from Court records what causes triggered the probate, ten years after Antonio's demise.

In retrospect, and based strictly on actions taken by Antonio C. Soza and his wife Jesus M. de Soza ten years earlier, there probably would not have been an estate to probate in 1915 nor in 1925.

Two reasons have come to light: On December 2, 1914, Antonio sold all his range and other animals bearing brand AS and all brands under his control, to his wife, as her sole and separate property; and secondly on January 4, 1915, Antonio C. Soza and Jesus M. Soza sold their ranch assets to Severin Rambaud for $3,500.00.105 Four days later, on January 8, 1915, Severin Rambaud and Refugio Rambaud, his wife, resold the same exact property to Jesus M. Soza for $3,500.00.

Ostensibly, Jesus now owned all the personal and real property at the San Antonio Ranch on the San Pedro River. It is not clear whether this was the total ranch property holdings at the time of Antonio's death. One piece of oral history that may not have validity, is that Antonio had apportioned ranch property to Antonio, Francisco and Jose, his sons from his marriage to Mercedes Federico. Without an expensive title search, this could not be validated at this writing.

Reverting to the question of the remaining real property assets belonging to Antonio in 1915. Based on the estate planning carried out by Antonio and Jesus there would not have been an estate to probate. Additionally, prior to 1925, no probate record has surfaced to support the notion that Jesus M. de Soza had claimed a "Widow's Exemption" for her husband's remaining estate.

In Probate #7491 Estate of Jesus M. de Soza, dated January 27, 1939, a "Widow's Exemption" is claimed to have been operative since Antonio's death in 1915.

The exact rationale for the opening of Antonio's Probate #3722 ten years after Antonio's death may have been a Tucson vacant lot. In 1925, the lot was in the path of downtown Tucson business district expansion and development.106 The property, later claimed as "community property", had been previously purchased by Antonio's widow, on July 26, 1899 from Mercedes Tapia for Four Hundred ($400.00) Dollars.107

On March 7, 1902, the Pima County Tax Collector assessed the property at $190.00 to Unknown Owners, being liable for $2.73 due on December 1889." Ownership was eventually cleared by the Board of Supervisors, Pima County. In consideration of the sum of Ten ($10.00) Dollars, title was legally conferred on Jesus M. de Soza on March 10, 1902.108

In the absence of documentation, it can only be surmised that the need to finance development of the vacant lot, may have prompted a title search. That search may have set into motion Probate #3722, as it would have been necessary to clear the title to that portion of "community property" belonging to Antonio C. Soza, Deceased.

On November 14, 1925, Jesus M. de Soza filed a Petition for Letters of Administration for the estate of Antonio C. Soza, Deceased. The value and character of the estate was listed as: Lot Five (5), Block Sixty Eight (68), Tucson, value about Ten Thousand ($10,000.00) Dollars.109

On March 17, 1926 Carlos Moreno Soza and his wife Herminia V. Soza signed a Quit-Claim Deed in favor of Jesus M. de Soza, conveying all rights, title, interest and claim in Lot Five (5) in Block Sixty Eight (68).

On March 26, 1926, Administratrix Jesus M. de Soza filed for authorization "to mortgage the vacant and unimproved" property , located between 6th & 7th Streets on North Fourth Avenue, Tucson business district, for $12,300. Proceeds would be used for the construction of a two story brick building, with two store rooms on the first, and four apartments on the second floor. Estimated cost was $15,000.00. Construction cost over-run and unfurnished apartment vacancies prompted another request of the Court for authorization for a second mortgage of $2,300.00.

On August 20, 1926 a Petition for Distribution of Estate was filed by Jesus M. de Soza, to wit: One Half (1/2) to Jesus M. de Soza, 1/24th (each) to eleven sons and daughters, and 1/48th each to two grand daughters.110

On November 13, 1926, the Court rules that "for the benefit and advantage of the estate", authorization is granted to secure another mortgage of $2,500.00 on the North Fourth Avenue property described as Lot 5 Block 68.

On January 14, 1929 Probate proceedings received a Petition For The Removal of Administratrix, amended on February 1, 1929,111 which the Court subsequently denied and dismissed. During the hearings Jesus M. de Soza was suspended as Administratrix. When she was re-instated, her bond was increased to $5,000.00 from $500.00

On March 20, 1933, Jesus filed her Resignation of Administratrix, stating "that she was old and unable to care for said Estate, ... that I stand ready to settle my accounts .... Jesus was now at age seventy eight. In resigning, she nominated and appointed her son, Albert M. Soza to succeed her.

Closure of Probate #3722 Antonio C. Soza, Deceased, finally came when Administrator Albert M. Soza petitioned the Court on March 30, 1937, for an Order Setting Aside Estate to Surviving Spouse of Deceased. The Petition was approved by Judge William G. Hall, Superior Court, Pima County.

This 1937 Court record indicates that the estate consisted of 760 acres in sections 30 and 32 in Township 12 South Range 19 East, and any interest in Lot sixteen (16) Block Four (4) in the Walker Addition, Benson.

The reader can make an independent probate assessment by reading the full Court transcript of Probate #3722 Antonio C. Soza, Deceased filed November 14, 1925, or peruse the abbreviated chronology commencing on page 87 [in the print edition].


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