Arizona follows the law of intestate succession, meaning that if an individual dies without a will, the state is in charge of distributing the assets. Arizona laws dictate who is eligible to receive the assets, and if no one is eligible to receive the assets, then the state can claim them. If you want to control how your estate is divided following your death, you need to create an estate plan.
Estate planning can be a difficult topic to think about. Essentially, it requires an individual to plan for their death and for a time during which they may no longer be of a sound mind. While it can be challenging to think of these times, it is essential to be prepared for these scenarios.
Taking the time to prepare an estate plan is vital to ensuring that your family members and friends receive the inheritances you want them to receive and that they receive these things without any issues. While any lawyer can draw up a will or explain to you the various trusts that exist, they may not be able to create a customized estate plan that is tailored to fit your specific needs and all Arizona regulations.
Do I Need an Attorney to Create an Estate Plan?
Technically, you do not need an attorney to create an estate plan. However, if you choose to create an estate plan on your own, you risk making mistakes. If the mistakes are severe enough, your estate plan can be considered invalid, and If this occurs, your estate will be sent to a probate court, where a court appointee will be tasked with dividing the estate.
This process is time-consuming, it will cost your heirs financially, and your estate will not be divided according to your wishes. While hiring a lawyer will cost you money upfront, it pays off. Invalid and improper estate plans are sent to the probate court, which can be costly as well as the estate will be subject to further taxes.
Hiring an experienced estate planning attorney to draft your estate plan guarantees that your estate plan is valid and your wishes will be followed. In addition to this, you and your beneficiaries can avoid the probate process.
What if You Pass Away in Phoenix without an Estate Plan?
If you die without an estate plan in place, your estate will be transferred to various heirs by a probate attorney and a probate judge. The judge and attorney will distribute your assets to family members according to state law when this happens. For example, if one spouse dies and has no children, the surviving spouse may inherit the entire estate.
But, if there are multiple heirs, the process of distributing the assets becomes complicated. Far too often, when an estate is sent to probate court, heirs miss out on receiving an asset they were promised. This often causes arguments, and if the asset is valuable, the heirs may go to court to fight for it.
If you die without a spouse or children, your next closest relatives (siblings, parents, grandparents) will be the ones to receive your assets. If it turns out that you do not have any living relatives, your estate will go to the government.
What Documents Should be In My Estate Plan?
In its most basic form, a trust is an arrangement through which one person, the trustee, is granted the legal title to another person’s property. Trusts can be arranged in many ways, and each way specifies precisely how and when assets will be passed to the beneficiaries.
Trusts are created to organize property and assets to be passed on after death, and they also play a significant role in preventing probate. This is extremely valuable as going through probate can cost the beneficiaries thousands of dollars, it is a slow process. If you have a valid trust, your assets are protected and they will automatically be passed on to your beneficiaries following your death.
A will differs from a trust as it does not transfer your property and assets to the beneficiaries following your death. Instead, a will is a legal document that sets for your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care for any of your children or your spouse.
Call Our Arizona Estate Team at (480)467-4325 to discuss your case today.