The odds are that your house is the most valuable asset you own, so naturally you want to ensure it ends up in the right hands after you’re gone. If you’re married, you probably want your house to pass to your spouse in the event that they outlive you.
If you’re unmarried, you may want your home to go to a child or other relative. With proper estate planning, you can ensure that your wishes will be met after you die. However, it can be tough to know the best way of leaving your house to your beneficiaries.
How Wills Work in Arizona
Because Arizona is a community property state, most assets belong to both spouses equally. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to pass real estate and other property on to a spouse or other loved one after death. In fact, careful estate planning is crucial to minimize time delays and ensure your beneficiaries receive houses and other property without delay.
The most common legal vehicles for transferring assets, wills allow individuals to control where property goes when they’re no longer around. Individuals can rest easy knowing that their loved ones will be protected after they’re gone. Additionally, creating a will provides beneficiaries with a sense of safety and security.
On the other hand, individuals who die intestate, or without a will, may cause negative consequences for their families. If you don’t have a will at the time of your passing, the State will hold all your property and assets until they can go through probate. As a result, loved ones may not have access to money and other assets they need. Additionally, relatives will likely have to deal with invasive, lengthy court proceedings while they’re trying to grieve. By creating a will, you can avoid some of these outcomes and ensure your final wishes are carried out.
What Happens to Your Home if You Die Without a Will
Dying without a will can also cause problems for those who want to pass a house on to beneficiaries. If someone dies intestate, Arizona will distribute their property to legal heirs in accordance with the state’s intestacy laws. Unfortunately, these distributions may not match up with the decedent’s wishes or the needs of their family. According to Arizona law, the following order is used to determine intestate succession:
- If the decedent was married and had no children with another partner, the estate passes to their spouse.
- If the decedent was married and had children with another partner, the estate is split 50-50 between the spouse and children.
- If the decedent was unmarried and had children, the children would inherit the estate.
- If the decedent was unmarried and had no children, the estate would go to their parents.
- If the decedent was not married and had no children or parents, the estate would go to siblings.
- If the decedent was not married and had no children, parents, siblings, nieces, or nephews, the estate would go to extended family.
- If the decedent had no family, and no one tried to claim the assets, the state has the right to seize them.
How to Leave Your Home to Someone
Creating a will is an effective way to avoid letting the court decide who inherits your home and property. However, naming the new owner of the property in your will may not be sufficient to avoid probate. Depending on the specifics of your estate, you may also need to establish a Transfer on Death or a Joint Tenant With Right to Survivorship.
If you own your home outright and set up a Transfer on Death, your home will immediately pass on to the person named on the deed at the time of your passing. On the other hand, with a Joint Tenant With Right to Survivorship, you own your home with another individual who will take full ownership at the time of your death.
Advantages of Setting Up a Trust for Your Home
The state of Arizona allows an individual to will their home to another person. However, if you want to transfer a property upon death, setting up a living trust may be the more efficient option. When you create a trust, your home will pass directly to your beneficiary without having to go through the probate process. As a result, your loved ones can avoid costly delays and contentious court proceedings. Note that your selected beneficiary will still be responsible for paying any outstanding debts owed on the house at the time of your passing.
Don’t leave your estate planning to chance. At JacksonWhite Law, we have the knowledge and experience to handle a wide range of concerns, including the establishment of wills, trusts, and power of attorney. You can rely on us to preserve and protect your assets while treating you with the respect and kindness you deserve.
Call our Arizona Estate Planning team at (480)467-4325 to discuss your case today.