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Arizona Last Will and Testament Attorney

Arizona last will and testament attorney

Embarking on the journey of creating a Last Will and Testament in Arizona can often feel daunting. Yet it’s one of the most significant steps you can take for your future. This essential document holds the key to safeguarding your legacy and ensuring your wishes are honored. An experienced Arizona last will and testament attorney can help you draft a will that meets your needs and protects your loved ones. They can also advise you on how to avoid common mistakes that can cause problems later. In addition, having a will helps ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away.

In this blog, you’ll uncover the vital role an Arizona Last Will and Testament attorney plays in this process. We’ll guide you through the intricate legal landscape to provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Join us as we navigate the essentials of crafting a will that stands the test of time and law, ensuring your final wishes are fulfilled with precision and care.

You Can Control Who Inherits Your Estate.

A will allows you to control who inherits your estate. If you do not have a will, then state law determines who gets what when you die. In some states, the surviving spouse automatically receives everything. In others, children receive half (or more) of your estate. Learn more about what happens if you die without a will in Arizona.

An Arizona will is administered through a legal proceeding called probate. Probate involves a personal representative paying a deceased person’s creditors, and then legally transferring the decedent’s property to the persons named in the will.

An Arizona last will and testament attorney can help you write will at any time during your lifetime (assuming you are still of “sound mind”). You can change your will any number of times.

There Are Generally No Restrictions To What Your Will Can Say.

As a general rule,  there are no restrictions about the directions someone can write in their will. A person can give what they want, to whom they want, and how they want after their death. And a will’s testamentary directions can be simple, or the directions can be complex and detailed.

However, here are some restrictions on what your will can say:

  • Provisions in a will that make a bequest deemed contrary to public policy, such as a bequest conditioned upon race or religious criteria, are not enforceable.
  • An attorney preparing a will may not make themselves their client’s heir.
  • A typical simple will in Arizona makes one’s spouse the sole beneficiary and personal representative, and it gives all assets equally to their children after the second spouse’s death. However, that’s for a traditional marriage where the children are common to both spouses. It can get more complicated if you have a blended family and want to ensure that your children from a prior marriage get something.

The majority of Americans don’t have a will

As of 2021, Gallup’s polling found that slightly less than half of U.S. adults, 46%, have a will that describes how they would like their money and estate to be handled after their death. This statistic has been relatively consistent since 1990. The likelihood of having a will increases with age; about 76% of Americans aged 65 and older have one, compared to only 20% of adults under age 30. There are also differences based on income, with higher-income Americans more likely to have a will than lower-income Americans.

Real Life Story: House Sale Delayed Because There Wasn’t a Will

I recently got a call from someone who was trying to sell his grandparents’ house. The grandfather died years ago, without a will. The couple owned the house in such a way that his wife did not automatically get the house when the grandfather died. Then the grandmother died. The house had a beneficiary deed from grandmother to the grandson. (In other words, grandmother’s one-half interest in the house automatically transferred to the grandson upon her death.) But the grandfather’s estate still owned his one-half interest in the house. And the parties had scheduled the closing on the house sale for later that day!

After some investigating, I figured out that we needed to probate the grandfather’s estate. Here were the two main complications:

  • The probate process requires that you list out the surviving spouse, children and heirs. And we didn’t know who those persons were. This delayed the process. Plus we needed to pay $1,50o for a genealogy company to identify and locate the living heirs.
  • The law says that the personal representative needs to post a bond unless all heirs waive it or the will waives it. A bond is a type of insurance that protects the heirs in case the personal representative steals the estate assets. This was an extra cost. Plus it took time to obtain the bond.

In the end, the house sale still occurred at a later date. But not having a will certainly caused frustration for everyone involved in the sale of the house.

Steps to Writing a Will in Arizona.

Here are the 5 most important steps to writing a will in Arizona:

  1. Pick a personal representative (executor). This is the person who will manage your affairs after your death. Designate any backups should your initial choice not be able to do it.
  2. Decide on specific gifts. These can include set amounts of money, property, or even family heirlooms.
  3. Determine who will inherit everything else. Often this is a spouse and then children.
  4. Pick who you want to be guardian for any minor children.
  5. Choose between a will and a living trust. This depends on whether you want to plan for incapacity or control the timing and manner of distributions.

We suggest that you have an Arizona last will and testament attorney prepare your will. That will help ensure that it is valid and will actually work when it needs to.

You Can Be Sure That Your Wills Are Valid.

An experienced lawyer can help ensure that your will is properly written. They can also make sure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away. Here are the requirements to make a valid will in Arizona:

  • The testator must sign it. The testator is the person making the last will and testament. He or she must be over the age of 18 and be mentally competent. If the testator cannot understand the document they are signing, then the will is invalid. For that reason, children under 18 cannot make a will (as they lack legal competency).
  • It must be in writing. The writing can be typed or handwritten. Oral wills are not valid in Arizona. (However, there is an Arizona statute about oral trusts that sometimes can help.)
  • It must have two witnesses. Any competent person can be a witness. However, it is not a good idea for a witness to be related to the testator or to be a beneficiary of the will. In addition, it is important for the witnesses and the testator to sign a self-proving affidavit, which is typically at the conclusion of the document. The self-proving affidavit makes probating the will easier as it eliminates the requirement that the witnesses testify in the probate proceeding to authenticate the will.
  • It must be signed by everyone in the same room. Each witness and the testator must all be in the room together and sign at the same time.

Arizona Courts Strictly Enforce the Requirements For A Will.

Arizona courts strictly enforce the requirements for a will in Arizona. A valid will must follow all requirements provided by section 14-2502 of the Arizona Statutes. Otherwise, someone can challenge a will that does not comply with the formalities of signing and witnessing, and the court will invalidate the will.

It is best to hire an experienced Arizona last will and testament attorney to ensure that your will meets all Arizona will requirements, and that you sign it in compliance with the provisions of Arizona law. The preparation of a will by someone other than a lawyer may constitute the unauthorized practice of law, and an improperly drafted or executed last will and testament may increase probate fees and estate costs.

Amendments

Arizona does not specifically require that a person amending a will execute it (sign it) with the same legal formalities as the original will. However, the amendment must still be valid. “A will that does not comply with statutory requirements is not valid, even if it accurately reflects the wishes of the testator.” In re Estate of Jung, 210 Ariz. 202, 205 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2005).

In other words, any amendment to the will must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses, or be a valid holographic will. An Arizona last will and testament attorney can help ensure that your amendment (codicil) is valid.

Self-Proving Affidavit

After a person dies, their heirs must “prove” the will to start probate. Proving a will consists of presenting evidence that the testator properly executed the will. You can make an Arizona will “self-proving.” A self-proving will in Arizona is one that does not need further authentication before a court admits it into probate. The law that allows a will to be self-proving in Arizona is Arizona Statute 14-2504. To be self-proving, the testator, two witnesses, and a notary must all sign and acknowledge being together in each other’s presence when signing the will.

Legal Consequences of Invalid Wills

If the court determines that the will is invalid, it can lead to significant legal consequences. Family members might contest an invalid will, resulting in lengthy and costly probate litigation.

If the court does not accept the will, Arizona law determines the appointment of a personal representative and the inheritance distribution. This may not align with the decedent’s wishes.

Additionally, a bond is typically required for the personal representative unless all heirs waive it. This requirement can create financial strain for someone seeking to fulfill this role. Ensuring the validity of a will is crucial to avoid these complications. A valid will helps ensure that the deceased person’s assets are managed according to their intentions.

An Arizona last will and testament attorney can help prevent the court from later determining that your will is invalid. If your loved one has passed away with an invalid will, it might be best to contact a probate litigation attorney to see what to do next.

Revoking a Will.

There are a few ways to revoke a will in Arizona:

  • Destroy it. Any manner of destruction qualifies as revocation. For example, you can burn the will, tear it up, shred it, throw it away, etc.
  • Direct someone else to destroy it in your presence. This is much less common, but it is a legal way to revoke your will.
  • Create a new will. Any new will automatically revokes and overrides any previous will. However, to be safe, the new will should include a statement revoking all prior wills. It is best to get an Arizona last will and testament attorney to help with this.

A quick call to an Arizona last will and testament attorney can help you know the best way to revoke or amend your will.

You’ll Save Money.

Having a valid last will and testament can result in considerable financial savings. It streamlines the probate process, reducing the time and legal fees associated with court proceedings. A clear, legally sound will minimizes the risk of disputes, which can be costly in terms of litigation expenses. Additionally, a well-planned will can include tax-effective strategies, potentially reducing estate taxes and maximizing the inheritance for beneficiaries.

Overall, investing in a valid will can significantly cut down on unnecessary expenses and ensure more of the estate is preserved for the intended heirs.

An experienced Arizona last will and testament attorney can help you draft a will that meets your needs and protects your loved ones. They can also advise you on how to avoid common mistakes that can cause problems later. In addition, having a will helps ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away.

Take the First Step: Secure Your Legacy Now

Ready to secure your legacy and protect your loved ones’ future? Don’t leave your last wishes to chance. Contact our experienced Arizona Last Will and Testament attorney today. We’re here to guide you every step of the way in crafting a will that reflects your wishes and complies with Arizona law. Schedule a consultation now to start your journey towards peace of mind.

Please call us at 602-443-4888. Or send us a message using our Contact Form. We’re here to help.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.

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