Everyone should have a will. It is the simplest document you can have as part of an estate plan and can be drawn up by an estate planning lawyer at a very reasonable cost. A will is a written expression of your intentions as to how you want your assets, personal and real, distributed upon your passing. In your will, you may also name an executor to administer your estate so that your intentions are carried out, any claims on the estate are resolved, and to see that all taxes are paid before a final distribution is made. As the testator or maker of the will, you may also name a trustee for your minor children.
What if You Don’t Have a Last Will and Testament?
You need not have a large estate to have a will. But if you fail to have one, then you will be deemed to have passed away “intestate” or without a will. This means that your property will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. However, not all property is subject to the intestacy laws. This includes the following:
- Property in a living trust
- Life insurance proceeds
- POD (payable on death) bank accounts
- Real estate held by a TOD (transfer on death) deed
- Retirement account proceeds
- Property held as community property with right of survivorship
- Securities held in a TOD account
Any other property will pass to certain heirs depending on whether you have surviving children, a spouse, parents or other close relatives.
Requirements for a Valid Will
The requirements for having a valid and enforceable will are found within the Arizona statutes. You must be at least 18-years of age to draft a valid will. Although there are self-proving wills and holographic ones (drafted in your own hand), the majority of wills are attested since these can avoid certain errors and survive will contests or challenges.
To have a valid attested will, be sure to follow these rules:
- Be in writing
- Sign it in your own hand or by another person at your direction and in your conscious presence
- Have two people sign it as witnesses soon after they both witnessed either your signature or your acknowledgement of your signature as signed by another person or your acknowledgement of the will
Consult Estate Planning Lawyer Susan Sandys
Contact Susan Sandys, a Phoenix estate planning lawyer, who can draft a will for you and counsel you on other estate planning strategies that can preserve your assets and save you unnecessary payment of taxes or other expenses. Call her at (602) 996-4076 for a consultation.