Estate Planning in Arizona

What Exactly Is Estate Planning In Arizona?

Estate planning is a way to make sure that everything is divided and dispersed according to your wishes once you pass. In Arizona, your assets are distributed to relatives, or other beneficiaries, according to your written trust or will. In the absence of either document, state law decides how your assets are handled and distributed.

No matter the size of your estate, or what you have, it is still your estate and should go how you wish, not according to the laws of the State of Arizona. Too often people feel that since they have told their family what they want upon their passing that this will accomplish their goals. Unfortunately this will not work and the laws will trump the individual’s wishes.

Are People Surprised When They Realize How Many Assets They Actually Possess?

Sometimes, for good or bad. But again, it doesn’t matter how much you have. You still want your hard earned assets to go to who you want. That takes planning, an estate plan.

Why Do People Need An Estate Plan?

If you don’t spell out who you want to handle your estate or where it will go, the state has a plan in place for you. Too often this is not to whom you wanted. If you have minor children, who will take care of the children? An estate plan helps resolve this and other estate concerns.

What Happens If Someone Dies Without An Estate Plan Or Even A Will?

The State of Arizona has a default “will” in place if you die without a will or trust. This is called the “Intestate Laws”. This spells out who is in charge and where your property goes. It is a one size fits all. Very often your property goes to people you would not have wanted to receive your estate. This can sometimes lead to disagreements, hard feelings and even court disputes.

Why Do People Avoid Making An Estate Plan? Fear of Mortality or Laziness?

Mortality and procrastination are likely two reasons. It’s like people who live in Arizona don’t go see the Grand Canyon thinking they can always do it later. Another hesitancy is cost. While our estate plans are reasonable, the value and peace of mind they give is invaluable.

How Often Should People Give Their Estate Plan A “Check-Up”?”

We recommend every 3-5 years unless there is a change in your or family’s life situation or you hear of law changes that you feel may affect you.

What Are Common Reasons Or Life Events That Prompt People To Revise Their Estate Plans?

Birth, death, big increase (or decrease), in net worth, marriage or divorce. Changes in the personal relationship with an heir. Our feelings for the people in our lives changes, as does the objects of our affection. As these change, so should the estate plan.

Who Are The Necessary Parties Involved In An Estate Plan?

For a trust, it would be the creator of the trust, usually called a Grantor, the administrator of the trust, called a trustee and the beneficiary. At first, for your own estate plan, you, or you and your spouse, are all three. Upon passing, the beneficiaries are your loved ones. An additional necessary party is the attorney to draw up the estate plan, assist in its execution and advice during its administration.

For a will, the parties are the testator (creator), personal representative and heirs.

Why Is It Important To Make Provisions For Mental Incapacity In An Estate Plan?

In Arizona, in the event of your incapacitation, meaning you are determined unable to physically or mentally take care of your personal affairs, a conservator and guardian are required to be appointed by a court to take care of you. This requires attorney costs and court appearances, both in the beginning and every year as reports and accountings are required to be filed with the courts. The burden and costs of this process cannot be overstated. Having all your assets in trust, with a successor trustee named to take charge in the case of your incapacitation, almost always avoids this court process completely.

For more information on Estate Planning In Arizona, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (480) 345-0444 today.

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