What Does a Last Will and Testament Do?

Many people overlook the importance of estate planning because they don’t want to think about their death. However, sooner or later, the day will come when you pass away. It is critical to plan now so your hard-earned wealth is passed on to your descendants in the manner you wish. You can also protect your minor children by indicating a guardian if both parents pass away.

To learn more about how a will and testament can benefit you and your family, please reach out to our talented team of estate planning attorneys. We will listen carefully to your needs and goals and explain your options in terms you can understand so you can make the best decisions for your unique circumstances. Call today to schedule an initial consultation at 623-267-0026.

Names Beneficiaries

A critical function of a will is that it names beneficiaries. In Arizona, those who die intestate or without a will leave their possessions up to the court to distribute. While a judge will attempt to be as fair as possible, they will follow legal guidelines on assigning an inheritance to your surviving family members.

This means it would be unlikely that close friends or unmarried partners would inherit from your estate. Creating a will lets you specify who will receive what assets after your death.

Names a Legal Guardian for Minor Children

The will also protects any minor children left behind following your death by allowing you to name their guardian. A judge will not know your family’s circumstances and might select a guardian you would not have chosen. To maintain control over how your children are raised, it is essential to have a will in place that names a guardian if you die.

Appoints an Executor

Finally, the will should name an executor who will be in charge of distributing your estate according to your wishes. This is crucial because so much depends on the executor’s utmost loyalty to you and your family.

What Makes an Arizona Will Legally Sound?

In order for an Arizona will to be legally binding, it must fulfill certain requirements, or else a court could declare the will invalid.

Testator Must Be the Proper Age

First, the testator, or person leaving behind the will, must be at least 18 years old for the will to be valid.

Testator Must Be of Sound Mind

Second, the testator must have been of sound mind and not acting under duress during the creation of the will. If family members suspect that the testator was not of sound mind or was acting based on threats from any individual, they could contest the will and have it declared invalid.

Reach out to our skilled estate litigators for help if you think your loved one’s will is not legally binding under Arizona law.

Witnesses Must Observe the Creation of the Will

Third, the will should have been created in the presence of a witness under proper age and of sound mind.

Will Must Be in Writing

Finally, Arizona law requires the will to be in writing. Verbal wills and agreements may not hold up in court if someone contests the will.

Holographic Wills in Arizona

It is also important to understand that handwritten wills, also known as holographic wills, are considered legal according to Arizona statute 14-2503. While it is not legally required, it is still helpful to have a witness present because this lends validity to the document.

What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will in Arizona?

Dying without a will or dying intestate can result in severe consequences, including leaving important decisions up to the court. Some estates also suffer from adverse tax consequences if the decedent does not have a last will and testament.

Important Decisions Left Up to the State

If the deceased person did not have a valid will, some significant matters will be left up to the State, including:

  • Who will inherit the estate, also known as beneficiaries
  • What assets will be assigned to which beneficiaries
  • Who will care for minor children
  • Who will administer the estate

Tax Consequences

In addition to the costly procedure of having your estate go through probate to determine how your property and funds will be divided, your family may also suffer some negative tax consequences if you die intestate.

Other Important Estate Planning Documents

Creating a will before you pass away ensures greater peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. However, other estate planning documents can also alleviate the burden on your family after you pass away.

Some estate planning documents we can help with include:

  • Trusts
  • Power of attorney documents
  • Advance directives
  • Living wills

Should You Hire Our Estate Planning Attorneys?

Thinking about your own death can be difficult and even scary. However, you don’t have to go through this challenging process alone. Our caring, capable lawyers will stand by your side as you consider your estate planning options. We will listen carefully to your goals and needs and help you make the right choice for your unique situation.

At The Dodds Law Firm, PLC, we can help make the daunting process of estate planning less complicated and less stressful. With the proper will and testament, you can rest assured that your family will be cared for and protected no matter what happens in the future. Call now to schedule a consultation with our skilled legal team at 623-267-0026.