10 Things That Are a Must to include in your Last Will and Testament
You’re ready to start estate planning, but you’re not sure what to include in a will. Here are ten things you should include in your will.
One in three surveyed adults believe they have too few assets and don’t need a will, but that’s not necessarily true. Everyone needs a will, no matter their amount of wealth. If you live in Arizona you want to make sure the will that you create with your lawyer follows Arizona law.
A will simply says what should happen with your possessions if you were to pass. Without a will, the courts will choose what happens to your possessions. Although a last will and testament doesn't avoid probate it is a legal document that will tell the courts what your wishes are.
Keep reading to learn more about what to include in an Arizona will. If someone died without a valid will we usually say that they died intestate.
What should you Include in a Will according to Arizona law?
Of course, a last will and testament outlines who gets what as an inheritance if you should pass. However, you might wonder what to include in your own will.
For instance, you’ll need to appoint who will serve as the executor of your estate. In some instances, there may be certain requirements your will must meet according to Arizona law. Arizona Wills are very versatile but you should still follow state laws.
Otherwise, your will could prove invalid. In that case, you may as well not write your will at all.
Experienced estate planning attorneys in Chandler, AZ can make sure your will meets state requirements and provides desired protection for your family.
The following entries highlight ten must-have things you should include in your will.
1. Heading, Marital History, and Heirs
This introductory section should list your full name. It should also show your county of residence. Furthermore, you should include a declaration that the document is your valid will.
2. Debt Information
You should use this section of your will to show how you want to settle your debts. For instance, you can list which assets to use to pay various obligations. Otherwise, your executor may have to spend considerable time in probate court to resolve this matter.
You should also include definitions of the language in your will. This part of the will clarifies words and phrases used throughout the document. The Definitions section of your will helps eliminate any potential misunderstandings.
4. Disposition of Assets
The Disposition of Assets section is the most familiar part of a will. It lists the assets you want to pass on and to whom.
You can use this section to gift money, high-value assets, personal belongings, and even real estate (real property). You can list your beneficiaries as surviving spouse, family members, friends, businesses, charities, or trusts.
As the testator in your will you need to be of sound mind as the person making the will. Even for a holographic will you should still be considered of sound mind.
5. Executor and Trustee Information
You must have an executor for your will. An executor is your personal representative. They carry out the terms of your will.
The executor allocates your assets to your beneficiaries. They’ll also manage your affairs if you pass.
For example, they’ll settle debts and file your final tax return. These tasks are essential. The executor ensures your heirs don’t inherit these debts.
6. Executor and Trustee Powers
You should also outline the powers held by your executor or personal representative. Some people overlook this part of their will. In doing so, however, you make it much more challenging for an executor or trustee to complete vital tasks like selling your home if needed.
7. General Provisions
The General Provisions section is a catchall statement in your will. This section will vary depending on your circumstances. For instance, you might include language that outlines how a divorce would impact the distribution of your assets. You may want to also include non probate assets like the family bible or any other personal values here.
8. Guardianship for minor children
You may have minor children. If so, you’d use the Guardianship section of your will to name someone as their Guardian. This individual will provide care for your children if you and your spouse should pass.
You can also use this section to name guardians for other dependents, such as an adult disabled child or your parents. If not, the court will appoint a guardian for these individuals.
9. No Contest Provision (stay away from probate court)
In some cases, an individual will contest a last will and testament—whether or not they’re a member of your family. A No Contest Provision addresses this scenario. It makes this part of your will non-negotiable.
You also may want to consider working with a law firm that will help you create a self proving will. For a Will to be self proved they need to have at least two witnesses as well as a notary public to notarize the will. This are basic requirements for any will.
A trust is an optional addition to your will. It’s not appropriate for all individuals. A trust can be either a revocable trust or an irrevocable trust. A revocable trust can be changed in Arizona.
However, a trust is beneficial and generally advisable if you have children under the age of 18. In that case, you may want to ask your attorney to include a Minors’ Trust in your will.
What Assets Should Be Included in a Will?
You should inventory your assets before completing a will. In other words, you should make a list of your valuable assets.
You may plan to leave everything to your spouse and children. Still, you can avoid overlooking things by creating a list of what you own before writing a will. These items might include:
- Pets (even pets)
- Real estate
- Any other personal property of value
Experienced Chandler estate planning attorneys can walk you through this process and ensure you don’t miss any important assets.
Assets to Exclude from Your Will
You don’t need to include everything in your will. There are some things that will get transferred to your desired heir without a declaration.
For example, you most likely already named a beneficiary for your financial assets and life insurance policy. The same applies to bank and retirement accounts.
You can also exclude property that you own jointly with someone, such as a spouse. The property will automatically transfer to them.
Let an Estate Planning Attorney help
Now you know more about what to include in a will. However, a will is only part of a full estate plan.
You can use a will as a focal point for your wishes along with your beneficiary designations. Alternatively, you can use your will along with a living trust in Arizona. Are you ready to create your Arizona will? If you are married are you ready to create your Arizona Wills?
When you trust Citadel Law Firm with your estate planning needs, we’ll help you every step of the way. We’ll also use your will to designate any needed guardians. We’ll make sure your will takes good care of your family and all your final wishes are respected.
If you want to change or write a will, don’t wait. Call today to schedule a free estate planning consultation. You can call (480) 565-8020 or click on the button below to schedule. Our law firm team will be pleased to help. For a more comprehensive list Estate Planning Checklist for Arizona click here.