Estate Planning & Wills

Estate planning is the process by which a person plans for the distribution of his or her assets at death. Estate planning can be as simple or as complicated as a person’s assets and family dynamics.

Frequently Asked Questions and Estate Planning Myths 

Myth:  I moved to Arizona from another state so the will and trust I have are no longer valid.

Thanks to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, Article IV, Section 1, this is false. If your will and trust were valid when and where they were signed, they will be valid in ANY state. This does not mean, however, that it would not be a good idea to have your documents reviewed by an Arizona attorney to determine if minor adjustments are needed to take advantage of the nuances and protections of Arizona’s laws.

Myth:  If I don’t have a Will, the government will take all my assets after I die.

The state will NOT TAKE YOUR ASSETS if you die without a will if you are married or have any blood relatives. Each state has laws regarding intestate succession (the determination of who receives the assets of a person who dies without a will), and only in rare instances does the State receive a decedent’s assets.  

Myth:  Probate is to be avoided at all costs.

Probate got a bad rap by the lengthy and complicated process and by exorbitant executor and attorney fees in other states. This is not the case in Arizona, and there are many instances when it is advisable to probate a person’s will. Examples are to nominate a guardian or conservator for your minor children, to terminate creditors’ rights, or to exercise a power of appointment. 

Question:  How often should I have my estate plan reviewed?

A review is advisable if there is a change in the family - a birth, death, divorce, marriage or serious illness.  A change in your finances or a change in transfer tax laws should also prompt a review.

Question:  If I have a Revocable Trust, do I still need a Will?

Yes!  A Will is always needed if you have minor children, as it is the document in which you name their guardian and conservator.  A Will designating your revocable trust as the beneficiary (commonly called a pour-over will) is the way to transfer your property to your revocable trust after you die.  The most conscientious person can miss an asset when funding a revocable trust.