We’ve all been told that estate plans are important and that, if anything, we should write a will. If you die without a will or with a will that is invalid (this is called dying “intestate”), the state of Arizona has laws governing what steps need to be taken.
There are many other ways an estate plan can benefit you outside of distributing your assets.
Wills are the most common way for people to state their preferences 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 your estate and specify who will (and who will not) receive specific property and belongings. A will can also include instructions about care of minor children, gifts to charity and formation of trusts. Some people also choose to disinherit legal or expected heirs such as estranged family members.
Legal restrictions may prevent some parts of a will from being effective. For example, property owned by multiple people may only go to the surviving owner. Assets that name a beneficiary, such as 401(k)s, pensions, bank accounts and insurance policies must go to the named party regardless of what a will says.
Our experienced attorneys can help you create a legally valid will and name an executor who will ensure your estate is handled correctly
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.
Trusts 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 since a will is only effective upon death.
There is more work required under a trust than under a will though but it can have such benefits as:
Trusts are not for everyone but those who can properly fund a trust can take advantage of the tools a trust provides.
Arizona requires a mental health care power of attorney, which comes into play if you need to be placed in a level one behavioral health care services facility or a locked facility. This commonly occurs within the elderly population, as dementia and/or Alzheimer’s sets in.
Unfortunately, without a mental health care power of attorney, the elder’s loved ones are forced to petition for a guardianship, which can be very expensive.
Our estate planning attorneys can help you communicate your wishes on a variety of matters, not just dividing property.