What Is a Will?
We have all heard the term but what is it? A will sometimes referred to as a last will and testament, is simply a legal document that you, referred to as a testator, create. The will should declare and name a person who will manage your estate and carry out your wishes when you die. This person is called an executor.
Through a will, a principal can leave instructions for how their tax and debt obligations should be resolved, who should receive guardianship of their children, what should be done with business and personal assets, and who should inherit certain property and assets. Wills are public documents managed by the court system, meaning that a probate court will still be involved in the execution of a will; however now with a will, the Court has a roadmap or a set of instructions on where that person wanted everything to go. This can streamline the Probate Process and add peace of mind.
There are a wide variety of provisions that an attorney could help someone include in their will. Primarily, a will outlines how the testator’s property and assets will be distributed when they die and names the heirs or beneficiaries who will receive these assets. However, there are other important terms that can be outlined in a person’s will.
A will should designate an executor to handle the distribution of the testator’s estate and the payment of their debts upon their death. The will should explicitly state the extent of the authority granted to the executor and potentially name a backup executor to succeed the original choice in the event they predecease the testator.
Services Our Will Planning Attorneys Provide in Gilbert, AZ
Our experienced Gilbert attorneys can help with drafting, revising, amending, dissolving, and executing your will.
Creating a Will
Your legacy — what you leave behind for those you love and who love you — is not about money. Kindness, compassion, caring…these acts will live on in the hearts of your heirs for as long as they live. When it’s time to plan for the future, you want to do what’s best for everyone.
Even if you aren’t wealthy, estate planning is important. Both a will and a trust can prepare your assets to be passed on after you’re gone. No one wants to think about the end of life. While it is natural to want to focus on the present when it comes to protecting your family and ensuring your wishes are carried out, taking the time now to create an estate plan, like a last will and testament, should be a certainty.
Updating & Changing a Will
In Arizona, you can revoke or change your will at any time, as long as you have the mental capacity to understand what you are doing. In order to legally change your will, you can create a new will, stating that you revoke all previous wills, or you can add an amendment to your existing will, known as a codicil. For your new will to be valid, you must either have it witnessed or you can prepare a holographic will.
What Should Be Included in Your Will?
It is important to note that a Last Will and Testament only controls estate property which is generally exclusive to assets that do not have a co-owner or a named beneficiary. A huge misconception is that a will helps a person avoid probate which is generally not the case. Nonetheless, the Last Will and Testament is an important legal document for the following reasons:
- A Will is generally used to designate an alternate guardian for a person who has minor children.
- A Will generally provides instructions for distributing a person’s personal effects (jewelry, artwork, electronics, furniture, etc.).
- A Will designates an executor to pay final expenses, file final tax returns, and distribute assets.
- A good Will generally waives any bond requirement for a Personal Representative.
Speak with a Phoenix Will Attorney Today
Creating a valid will that fully addresses your estate planning needs is a complicated matter. A lawyer will fully review your situation and create a will that is legally enforceable and disposes of your assets according to your wishes.
What Are the Legal Requirements of Signing a Will?
There are some particular elements that must be present for a will executed in Gilbert to be held as valid and enforceable by a state court. One of the requirements for validity is that a will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses. In addition, for a will to be enforceable in Arizona, the individual must be at least 18 years of age and be of the mental capacity to understand the process that is occurring.
Written, handwritten, and electronic wills are permitted in Arizona, provided they meet certain legal criteria for validity. For example, a holographic or handwritten will must be signed and written by the individual themselves to be considered valid.
When executing any type of will, the individual must do so for the express purpose of creating a will. In other words, if the individual was not aware or intending to create a will when the document was made, the validity of the document could be put in question.
Why Do You Need Our Gilbert Lawyers to Write a Will?
The Arizona estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Brandon White will help you create a will that clearly and thoroughly expresses your wishes. We will carefully listen to your concerns before we help you draft this important document. Our estate planning lawyers have the skills, resources, and experience to walk you through every step of the process. We will ensure your goals are met, and your plans are legally sound.
- We will talk with you at length about your goals and what should be addressed in your will.
- We can also explain how other estate planning tools such as trusts can fit into your strategy.
- We will check in with you periodically to make sure your will is up to date as changes occur in your life.