Arizona Wills, Trusts, and Probate
Regardless of how much assets you have, a will makes certain that your hard earned assets and personal belongings will go to your family and loved ones. It is important to make sure you have a properly drafted will, not matter your age, wealth, or assets. Without a properly executed will, the court will make these determinations for you. It is in your best interest to not leave something as important as your children’s well being up to chance. Although preparing for life after your death or incapacity is an anxiety-provoking process, it may be one of be the most important steps you take in life. If you are in the process of creating a will, it is advisable to consult an Arizona wills attorney.
Arizona courts may NOT recognize or give effect to an improperly drafted will. Consequently, you must make sure that your will is drafted according to Arizona law. There are two ways to create a valid will in Arizona:
Notarization: Although having your will notarized before an authorized officer is not necessary in Arizona, notarizing your will ensures that your will be “self proving” and thus recognized by a court. Be sure to check with an Arizona wills attorney to make sure that your notary follows the precise instructions and format required by Arizona law. Changing a Will in Arizona
An Arizona will can be changed in whole or in part by:
The first option allows you to draft a subsequent will that is different, in part or in whole, from the original will. By executing a new will, you are expressing the intent to revoke the original will.
The second option permits you to revoke the original will by performing a “revocatory act” (such as destroying, burning, tearing, obliterating the will or any part of it). Arizona law requires that you perform this act with the intent to revoke the will.
The third option allows you to amend an old will by a codicil – usually a separate, attached piece of paper with the specified changes listed.
The final option applies only if, after making a will, the creator divorces or has his or her marriage annulled. As always, one must ensure that an Arizona will attorney approves any changes to your will.
An alternative and effective way to distribute your assets according to your specific needs is a trust. A trust allows you to allocate and distribute your assets to who you choose. A trust will initially transfer the assets to a third party, who has an obligation to ensure that your assets will be safely and responsibly taken care of until the beneficiary is ready and willing to receive the assets.
Given that Arizona law recognizes a variety of trusts, creating a trust provides you with tremendous flexibility in distributing your assets in ways that can save you taxes and can allow you dictate exactly how and when you want your assets distributed. Consult an Arizona trust attorney to ensure that you are creating a valid trust.
Upon the death or incapacity of an individual, his or her estate (assets) will transfer to those that are listed in the last recognized will. If no will or other recognized instrument exists, the property or assets will be distributed according to Arizona’s “intestate succession” law, where Arizona courts will dictate which individuals obtain the assets or property and the order which the assets are to be distributed.
Arizona law, in a pre-determined process – intestate succession - will distribute property to those with claims to the property that may include:
It is important that an Arizona probate attorney assists you in determining what kinds of assets are suitable for probate and transfer by a will or other instrument.