WILLS 

While no one likes to think about death, it is important for everyone to make preparations to address how matters will be handled after they are gone.  A Last Will and Testament is an essential part of any estate plan.  Having a Last Will and Testament in place will not only ensure that your wishes are followed, but it can help your family avoid a wide variety of legal complications after your death.  A Will is a legal document dated and signed by an adult called the testator or testatrix, witnessed by two other adults, and typically notarized.  A Will is designed to convey your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and much more.  Your will should be tailored to your particular financial and family circumstances and include provisions to:

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  • Name a Personal Representative to be responsible for managing your estate after you pass away.  This position was formerly known as executor.   You should indicate in your Will whether or not the Personal Representative has to post a bond. The Personal Representative should be trustworthy, will be responsible to ensure your wishes get carried out and may have to pay your remaining bills and handle debt collectors.  The Personal Representative will file the Will in probate court and be responsible for any legal concerns involved in carrying out its instructions.

  • Identify your family members and other beneficiaries.

  • Direct arrangements for settling debts or obligations.

  • Indicate your wishes regarding your funeral, cremation and/or burial.

  • Divide your remaining estate (after payment of your debts) among your heirs.  You will name certain people to give your assets to who are your “beneficiaries”.  You may simply divide your estate equally among your beneficiaries.  You may also choose to leave specific possessions such as cars, houses, photographs or jewelry, to specific beneficiaries.

  • Donate a portion of your estate to charitable organizations.

  • Specify a guardian for your minor children until they reach adulthood.

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I can craft an estate plan that addresses your family's needs.  Whether you need to create or update your will or utilize other methods to protect your assets and pass them on to your heirs, I can answer your questions.  I can help you draft a will that covers not only all of your concerns but also one designed to withstand any potential legal challenges.

 

I can also help you determine whether other methods, such as a Trust, would be more appropriate for your needs.  If you have a Trust, you should also have what is called a Pourover Will that determines what happens to any property that you may have inadvertently left out of the trust ownership.  The Pourover Will takes any assets that need to be probated and pours them from the probate estate into the Trust and from there those assets are distributed to the Trust beneficiaries pursuant to your wishes.

If a person does not have a valid will when they die, their property will be distributed to their heirs according to Arizona law.  A representative will be named by the court to oversee the distribution of assets.  Property will go to the deceased person's spouse and/or children, and if they do not have a spouse or children, it will go to other close relatives, such as parents, grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins.  Guardianship proceedings may be necessary to determine who will care for any minor children of the deceased person.