Working with an Arizona estate planning lawyer is essential to make sure you have the right estate plan.
Before you can start planning your estate, you need to have your information in order. Learn what estate planning documents you'll need in AZ and an Arizona estate planning checklist.
More than 80% of us currently worry about our finances. That's why taking sensible steps to protect your loved ones from unexpected financial stress after you die is essential. An estate planning attorney can help.
In this article, we'll go into depth about how to prepare your estate planning. In Arizona, several estate planning documents can make your journey easier. Our estate plan is a big part of making sure your financial affairs are in order.
These documents also provide extra protection and support for those around you, both financially and when making decisions on your behalf. Read our estate planning checklist to ensure you are well-prepared for any eventuality. Having all the necessary documents will keep you our of probate court as well.
If you die without any estate plan documents your estate will go through an intestate succession.
Last Will and Testament
One crucial document for estate planning is a last will and testament. This outlines what happens to your property and assets when you die. It should explain how you want to distribute your assets.
It will also nominate guardians for minor children and pets.
Without a valid will, current Arizona state laws will determine what happens to your estate. That may not align with your wishes (your intended beneficiaries may not be whom you expect), so it's crucial to prioritize this with your estate planning in Arizona.
Even if your estate planning attorney helps you create a living trust they will still add a last will as part of your estate plan. A Last Will and Testament is not a Living Will.
Choosing the right personal representative for your estate plan is important. You want to make sure your personal representative is someone that you trust.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a document where you appoint an individual you trust to manage your financial affairs. This individual is also known as an agent, and that person takes power if you become incapacitated.
In Arizona, the agent can manage your bills, online transactions, investments and tax, manage bank accounts, brokerage accounts and other financial decisions and financial matters.
It ensures your estate still functions if you can't make decisions. Typical circumstances where that might happen include dementia or Alzheimer's. A Durable POA is an important part of your estate planning checklist.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A healthcare power of attorney allows you to name an individual to make medical decisions. It is also know as a medical power of attorney.
It's something you would use if you become incapacitated. That would leave you incapable of making informed decisions about your health or treatment options. You will name a health care agent. It is probably the most important document in your estate plan.
The person you appoint will often be a close family member or friend. They will need to talk to doctors and interpret your will to decide on your behalf. We like to say that money always find a home but having a health care directive and power of attorney is extremely important to provide direction in case or a medical emergency when medical decisions need to be done fast.
That document can help protect you and your health as part of your estate planning. It usually will not address end of life care, which is addressed in a living will.
A trust is a proper legal arrangement for Arizona residents. It helps you control how you manage and distribute your assets. With a trust, you transfer your existing assets into a trust.
An appointed trustee will manage that in line with your choices. You can be your own trustee if you are alive and of sound mind. You can step our and let a successor trustee take over when you no longer can perform your duties.
The reason it's valuable is because it will help you bypass probate, and it may also have some tax advantages. Talk to an Arizona estate planning law firm. You will need legal advice to help put together the right trust for your needs.
A trust is specially important if you plan to leave assets for charitable organizations. They will receive property through the trust.
Revocable Living Trust Agreement
One type of trust you may want for your estate planning is known as a revocable living trust agreement. You can make changes to this type of trust during your lifetime. Or you can revoke it. An estate planning attorney can help.
It's flexible. It will help you keep control of your assets and provide a smoother transfer after your death.
In Arizona, these trusts will also be applicable if you become incapacitated. In those circumstances, your nominated trustee will manage the trust's assets.
Protection for Digital Assets
In the modern digital era, we accumulate as many virtual assets as physical ones. You must include these in your estate planning.
This type of assets include include your social media profiles, photographs stored in the cloud, and emails. It also has online financial assets like cryptocurrency.
You'll need to create an inventory when putting together a Protection of Digital Assets document. It must also outline what you want to happen to these assets after you die.
Some social media platforms allow you to add someone to take over if you pass away. You may want to check that. In Arizona, appointing someone to manage these assets after your death is essential to help preserve your digital legacy.
Business Succession Plan
If you run a business, you'll also need a business succession plan for your estate planning. This document will state what should happen to your business after retirement, incapacity or death.
It will include a named successor or a process for choosing one. It helps prevent conflicts between family members or business partners. Plus, it ensures your business continues without disruption should something happen to you.
You must include all your retirement benefits as part of your estate planning. That includes paperwork outlining 401(g)s, pensions, IRAs, or social security.
These financial assets will be your primary income source when you retire and inheritance for your named beneficiaries. Talk to a estate planning attorney to make sure your different accounts are titled properly. Some accounts can't be added to a living trust if you create one.
All your retirement financials outlined in your estate plan will make things easier after you die. It might even mean your loved ones can avoid probate.
Advanced Healthcare Directive
An Advanced Healthcare Directive is sometimes called a Living Will. It will outline all your wishes if you can't make decisions because of incapacitation. It is different from a health care power of attorney.
For example, it will state your medical preferences, helping those around you make the best decisions for you. That could include long-term care, organ donation or resuscitation decisions.
This document is crucial for estate planning in Arizona as it will help your loved ones and ensure you get the best medical care. Discuss a health care directive to the attorney helping you with a estate plan. An advance directive carries your final wishes for end of life.
Life Insurance Policy
Your life insurance policy is the final document to have as part of your estate planning.
This document is an insurance asset, providing financial support to your loved ones when you die. It can cover a range of things depending on your circumstances.
For example, it might pay for your funeral costs. If you have children who are minors, it might pay for their education.
In Arizona, a well-planned insurance policy is the best way to protect those around you if something happens to you, especially if you are the primary financial provider.
Estate Planning: Getting All your documents in Order
Don't put off your estate planning. By getting together your documents like wills and trusts, you can take a proactive and organized approach to the future. Having the right documents as part of your estate plan is essential.
It will ensure you don't leave your loved ones with problems, questions or financial worries after death.
For more information about organizing your estate and the legal steps you need to take, get in touch with our team. Schedule a free consultation with an estate planning attorney today, call (480)565-8020 or click here to schedule.
Having a proper estate planning done by estate planning attorneys is not just a collection of a legal document. Estate plans are a comprehensive strategy that that minimize estate taxes, avoid probate and defines the right estate planning process for you and your family. Start your own estate plan today, work with a Citadel law Firm estate planning lawyer. Estate plans are more complex than you think.