A will is legally binding document that addresses the way in which a person’s assets will be handled after he or she passes away. While some states recognize oral (or nuncupative) wills, Arizona does not. Importantly, if no will exists, a decedent’s estate will be distributed according to Arizona’s intestacy laws, which may or may not accurately reflect the wishes of the deceased. For this reason, it is highly important for everyone, regardless of age or health, to discuss with an attorney whether or not they should draft a will. The information below is intended to provide some basic information about wills in the state of Arizona. For more information or to have specific questions answered, call an experienced attorney who practices in the area of estate planning today.
One of the most significant reasons it is important to call an attorney for help creating a will is that in order for a will to be valid, it must generally comply with the formal requirements imposed by state law, such as a minimum age requirement for the person making the will and a certain number of witnesses present for the signature who are of sound mind. Furthermore, the witnesses must actually see the person making the will sign it or be told by the person who made the will that the signature on the document is his or hers and is valid.
Arizona recognizes holographic, or handwritten, wills. Unlike other wills, holographic wills do not need to be witnessed by anyone. In order for a holographic will to be valid, it must be made by a person who is over 18 and is of sound mind, the will must be signed, and there must be evidence that the will was actually made by the person whose assets are at issue. Generally, holographic wills are used in emergency situations where a person does not have the time to create a regular will. While holographic wills have the same validity as a witnessed will, there is a greater risk that the will be successfully challenged after the death.
A living will is actually not a will at all, but rather a document that provides instructions regarding medical care in the event that a person becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions for him or herself. These documents are also commonly known as advance directives and, unlike a traditional will, the provisions of a living will take effect while a person is still alive. This document is important to ensure your wishes regarding life support and other end-of-life care are properly carried out.
Creating a valid will that fully addresses your estate planning needs is complicated matter that should be addressed by an experienced attorney. A lawyer will fully review your situation and create a will that is legally enforceable and disposes of your assets according to your wishes. Individuals who are considering creating a will should contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
You must plan ahead and get your estate planning completed before you become so sick you are no longer of sound mind and body. Call a trust and estates attorney in Phoenix, AZ today to learn what your options are for creating an estate plan and to learn what your estate plan should include to protect yourself, your assets, and your heirs. Contact us at (602) 900-1750.