How a Last Will and Testament Will Help Your Family When You Pass in Arizona
A last will and testament will help your family when you pass in Arizona. This is why you should consider writing one.
A survey from Caring.com showed that only 4 in 10 Americans have a will or living trust ready to go. This means that the majority of Americans aren't thinking of the future.
It is important to have an Arizona last will and testament for when you pass away. This is a very standard way to distribute assets and provide legal requirements.
If you do not have these documents, your family will not know what your wishes are. You will also not have any control over where your assets ultimately end up and it will be up to the probate court to decide. If you have a blended family, it is even more important to state your wishes and desires.
Keep reading to find out what a last will and testament is and why they are important under Arizona law.
What is a Last Will and Testament?
The first thing you need to understand is the definition of a last will and testament. This is a legal document that helps to communicate your final wishes.
It can provide instructions about what assets you have and how to distribute them. It can also give instructions about what to do after your passing.
This will provide information about things like your bank accounts, personal property, real property, or heirlooms. You could also establish guardian arrangements for dependents. You can also name who you want to be your personal representative (PR). The personal representative will execute under the testator's direction.
A last will and testament give you control over what happens after you have passed away. You will be able to direct your family through this document, taking stress off of their shoulders.
It is important to write your own will as soon as you can. Everyone should do this since you most likely have something that will need to go to someone after you die.
Will writing can be a bit difficult if you don’t have any experience, this is why it is a good idea to hire an attorney. They have the legal knowledge to instruct you on what to include.
Having an existing will will not keep you out of probate court though. It is very important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to protect all your assets.
Benefits of a Last Will and Testament
You may be wondering why a last will and testament is so important. The reality is that this is something everyone should have in case something were to happen to them.
There are many benefits to having this in place for your assets and your family. Here are some reasons why this is something you should consider doing right away.
A will helps you to divide anything you want to be given away after your death. You assets are called the testator's property. Assets could include anything of value that you own, such as fine China or real property. Your property may be classified as community property or separate property as well.
It is also the perfect way to distribute family heirlooms that you want to remain safe. This ensures that they go to the right family members who you trust the most.
Keep in mind that you can also give some of your assets to local charities or museums. You should include plenty of information when you are dividing assets so that there is no confusion. Charitable organizations may have a special place on your heart or they may not matter at all to you.
Create a Trustee
You will be able to appoint a trustee or an executor for your will. This will be the person who takes over the will once you have passed away. In Arizona an executor is usually called personal representative. Having an backup executor is usually something we recommend as well.
They will be responsible for making sure your last wishes are followed. There should be somebody that you trust completely who is also responsible.
Most people appoint their oldest child or their most trusted sibling to do this. This helps to ensure that your final wishes will be followed and your family will be taken care of under Arizona law.
This will is also going to help you name your beneficiaries. Doing this is important so that you know your assets are going to the beneficiaries who you want to receive them specially for personal property.
For instance, most people make sure their children are their beneficiaries. This allows them to receive an inheritance or any assets of sentimental value.
Beneficiaries may also be organizations as well. You may want to name minor children in your will. If you have minor children it is very important to do your estate plan carefully to make sure you avoid probate court. An revocable living trust may be more appropriate to make sure your children inherit your assets the proper way. An Arizona attorney will help you.
Allows Will Changes
The good thing about a last will and testament is its flexibility. You have the opportunity to change this will later on if your situation has changed.
This is an important factor to consider since some documents don’t allow this. You may have had a child since you created this will and want to now include them.
Or a family member may have passed away, and they need to be removed from the will. You can update this every few years to reflect the changes in your life.
If things have changed and it is not updated, the court will have to make these decisions for you. Building a relationship with an estate attorney will make updates easier and cheaper across the years.
What a Last Will and Testament Won’t Do
It is also important to understand what this will won’t do. It should not be used if you want to avoid probate since probate is necessary for this process. It is possible to avoid probate court using a Will together with other instrument like a deed or beneficiaries for your accounts. An experienced estate attorney will guide you to make sure or new will accomplish your goals.
You also cannot use this will to direct your funeral arrangements. This should be done in a separate legally binding document for your family. An estate attorney can help you with that as well.
If you have dependents or pets to take care of, these should be included in an individual document. In this document, you can include details for care and assets distribution.
These kinds of specific instances require their own documentation. An estate planning attorney will be able to help you make these arrangements so that all of the information is available.
Under Arizona law even holographic wills are valid. Arizona wills can take all shape and forms. The problem with handwritten wills is that they can easily be contested in court. You want to make sure you create a self-proved will.
What makes a Will self-proved Arizona?
In Arizona, a self-proved will is a type of will that has specific requirements to make it easier for the court to accept it as valid without the need for additional proof or testimony. To have a self-proved will in Arizona, the following steps must generally be followed:
- Draft the will: Create a written document that clearly states your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets after your death. It is recommended to work with an Arizona attorney to ensure that your will meets all the necessary legal requirements.
- Sign the will: Sign the will in the presence of two witnesses who are at least 18 years old and of sound mind. You must sign the will voluntarily and with the intention that it represents your final wishes.
- Witness signatures: The witnesses must also sign the will in your presence, acknowledging that they witnessed your signature and that you appeared to be of sound mind at the time of signing. The witnesses do not need to know the contents of the will.
- Affidavit of Execution: Prepare a separate document called an Affidavit of Execution or Self-Proving Affidavit. This affidavit is a sworn statement that you and your witnesses sign, affirming that all the requirements for a valid will were met at the time of signing. It is typically included with the will.
- Notarization: Have the Affidavit of Execution notarized by a notary public. The notary public will confirm the identity of the individuals signing the affidavit and administer an oath or affirmation.
By following these steps, your will can be considered self-proved in Arizona. This means that, in most cases, the court will accept the will as valid without the need for the witnesses to testify or additional proof of its authenticity. However, it's important to note that consulting with an attorney who specializes in estate planning can provide you with personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances. Self proved wills may give your family member a lot of peace of mind.
Last Will and Testament: Arizona Guide
You may be wondering why a last will and testament is so important for your family. This is the documentation that lets your family members know where your assets are going.
It will include your beneficiaries as well as the trustee who will take care of the will.
Are you interested in creating a last will and testament for the future? Contact us today at Citadel Law Firm to book your first free consultation.
Also, learn more about a living will and what that entails.