No one wants to think about 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. A Phoenix wills lawyers at our firm could help you create your own will that matches your wants and needs. Our compassionate team of attorneys could answer any questions you have and guide you throughout the process.
What is a Will?
We have all heard the term but what is it? A will, sometimes referred to a last will and testament, is simply a legal document which 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.
If you have any children under the age of 18 and/or have any children with special needs, your will should declare and name a person who will step in and take care of the children and help manage their needs once you die.
As far as assets and property go, a will should also list out what you own and who should get what. The will should be clear and concise so anyone who reads it would have no doubt as to your wishes. Some sample verbiage would be the following: “My Brother, John Doe should receive the sum of $5,000 and my personal collection of coins.”
A well formatted will should also be signed by the testator and witnessed by two people not named in the will. Our local lawyers could help ensure your will meets all the requirements necessary.
What Happens If I Die Without a Will?
Great question! If someone dies without any estate plan like a will (or a trust – See our page on revocable trusts) then their surviving spouse and children have to go to probate court within the county they passed away in. The probate court then decides what you own and who gets what. As you can imagine this is far from ideal as the outcome could be drastically different than what you would have wanted.
The probate process can also be time consuming and expensive for your family and friends to go through this on top of the grieving process and loss of a loved one. In order to avoid this, our team recommends speaking with an experienced attorney in Phoenix.
Do I Need an Attorney to Prepare my Will?
No, it is not required to have an attorney prepare your will. In Arizona, even some handwritten wills have been known to be honored by the courts. However, this is not recommended as this is often risky as it leaves much to chance if they will be honored or not be clear enough to enforce.
A will drafted by our experienced Phoenix wills lawyers could ensure the document is drafted correctly and legally under Arizona law. Our attorneys could also provide useful advice on other important estate-planning strategies such as revocable trusts along with other advance-planning tools, like financial and health care powers of attorney, to ensure that your wishes are carried out while you are still alive.
Want to learn more? Call us for a free consult. We are here to help.