When many people in Phoenix think of estate planning, they tend to think of a will that directs who their assets will be handled after they pass away. While a will is certainly an effective planning tool that is appropriate to use in many situations, there are many other legal tools available in estate planning that can protect assets, minimize tax liability, and potentially avoid the costs associated with the probate process. Some of the more common ways in which an experienced Estate lawyer can help create a comprehensive and effective estate plan are detailed below. For more information or answers to specific questions, call an estate planning attorney that practices law in your state.
A will is a written document that details a person’s final wishes. In Arizona, a will must be signed by the testator (the person who created the will) in front of two witnesses of sound mind, who must also sign the will. Arizona also recognizes holographic wills, which are handwritten wills written by the testator that do not need to be witnessed. Importantly, Arizona law does not recognize oral, or nuncupative, wills.
A trust is a legal relationship between the person who provides the assets for the trust, the trustee, who is the party who hold legal title to the trust assets, and the beneficiaries, for whom the trust assets are held. Trusts are effective estate planning tools in that they can help establish eligibility for certain government programs, protect assets from creditors, and avoid having your assets go through probate before they are transferred to your beneficiaries.
An advance directive, also often called a “living will,” is a document that details your wishes regarding medical care in the event that you become incapacitated. Despite being referred to as a type of will, they are in fact very different than actual wills in that they take effect during a person’s lifetime. An advance directive should be thoroughly reviewed by a lawyer in order to make sure that it is legally enforceable and adequately reflects your wishes.
Durable Powers of Attorney
Sometimes, illness, injury, or other medical conditions result in a person being unable to make important decisions for him or herself. In these cases, using a power of attorney document can ensure that someone close to you that is aware of your wishes can make important decisions on your behalf. Two of the most common kinds of powers of attorney that are often used include those that are related to healthcare and financial decisions. While these documents are relatively easy to create and can be found online, it is still important for people who wish to create a power of attorney should talk to an attorney about what should be included in the document and the way in which it is drafted.
Contact an Arizona Estate Planning Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Needs
People at any stage of life can benefit from implementing a comprehensive estate plan. In order to get started on yours, call a qualified estate planning lawyer today.