Estate Planning, Wills & Trusts
Arizona Estate Planning
Legal Help Preparing a Valid Will or Trust
We've all been told that if we do nothing else to take care of our legal affairs, we should write a will. That's pretty good advice. If you don't make a will before your death, Arizona state law will determine who will get your property and who will raise your children, and it may not be the person that you would have chosen.
Start today to get your affairs in order. It only takes one call to Wilson-Goodman Law Group, PLLC to begin the process: 480-359-1758 Toll Free: 800-409-2187. Or contact one of our Gilbert estate planning attorneys online.
Click here to find a Will Questionnaire that you can use to begin thinking about what you would like to accomplish with an estate plan, a will, or a trust. After you've completed the questionnaire, bring it with you to your appointment. We will take care of it from there.
Wills are the most common way for people to state a preference about how they want their estates handled after death. A well-written will eases the transition for survivors, transfers property efficiently, and avoids tax burdens. Wills vary from extremely simple to elaborate. Wills describe the estate and specify who will (and who will not) receive specific property. A will can also include instructions about care of minor children, gifts to charity, and formation of trusts. Some people choose to disinherit legal or expected heirs.
Restrictions and Limitations on Wills
Legal restrictions may prevent some parts of a will from being effective. For example, property owned in joint tenancy may only go to the surviving joint tenant. Assets that specifically name a beneficiary pensions, bank accounts, insurance policies must go to the named party.
By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, we can help you create a will that is legally valid and name an executor to ensure that your estate is handled correctly.
When No Will or No Valid Will Exists
If you die without a will or with a will that is invalid (this is called dying "intestate"), the state of Arizona has specific statutes governing what steps need to be taken to administer your estate and who has priority for the distribution of your assets. Outstanding debts and death expenses are paid first, and then any remaining property is distributed to your closest relative or group of relatives if they have the same degree of relation. Therefore, many close family members, close friends, and charities will not receive anything. Furthermore, dying without a will may impose a heavy tax burden on your estate.
Choosing a Guardian for Children
If you have minor or dependent children, you may use a will to name a guardian for your children (if they have no surviving parent). Guardianship affects other aspects of a will because you may want to provide financial support to the guardian to help in raising your children should something happen to you and/or your spouse.
Mental Health Care Power of Attorney
This is a power of attorney that Arizona requires in the event that a person requires placement in a level one behavioral health care services facility, or a locked facility. This commonly occurs with the elderly population, as dementia sets in and/or with Alzheimer's Disease. Wandering is frequently a problem with those conditions and for the safety of the elder and others, this type of placement is the only option. Unfortunately, under Arizona law, without a mental health care power of attorney, the elders loved ones are forced to petition the court for a guardianship with mental health care powers. A guardianship in Arizona can be very expensive, since very frequently, two attorneys are involved, and their fees are normally payable from the elders estate. The mental health care powers are only effective for one year, and if there is a continuing need to be in this type of placement, the court has to approve this for another year after proper notice and hearing. These costs and time can be easily avoided by having a mental health care power of attorney executed while one still has capacity to designate those who they trust to make these decisions.
These have become increasingly popular over the years, as more and more people want to avoid probate and ease the tax burden on their estates. Generally, these are alternatives to a will, which are only effective upon death. A trust, on the other hand, are effective upon signature of the grantor(s)/settler(s). There is more work required under a trust than with a will though, so while its not for everyone, those who are able to properly fund their trusts can take advantage of the tools that a trust provides, such as avoiding probate, providing for incapacity, avoiding/minimizing payment of estate taxes, proper management of assets, etc.
Consider All of Your Options
Our estate planning attorneys can help you communicate your wishes about a variety of things, not just dividing property. Learn more about end-of-life decision making for medical care and financial decision-making should you become unable to manage your own affairs.
Contact Wilson-Goodman Law Group, PLLC to schedule an appointment with one of our Arizona estate planning lawyers: