How to Avoid These Common Estate Planning Mistakes in Arizona

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by | Apr 27, 2023 | Probate Law

Estate planning is a critical process that everyone should undertake to ensure their assets are protected and distributed according to their wishes after their passing. However, like any legal process, estate planning can be complex and fraught with potential pitfalls, especially in Arizona, where state laws may differ from those in other states. To help you navigate the estate planning process successfully, it’s essential to be aware of and avoid common mistakes that can jeopardize your estate plan. In this article, we will explore some of the most common estate planning mistakes in Arizona and guide how to avoid them.

Failing to Create an Estate Plan

One of the most significant estate planning mistakes is failing to create an estate plan altogether. Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is only for the wealthy or elderly, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Regardless of your age or wealth, having a well-thought-out estate plan in place is essential to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are carried out.

To avoid this mistake, take the first step of consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney in Arizona.

They will help you understand the estate planning process and work with you to create a comprehensive estate plan that meets your unique needs and goals. Your estate plan may include a will, a trust, powers of attorney, and other legal documents to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of in the event of your incapacitation or passing.

Neglecting to Update Your Estate Plan

Creating an estate plan is not a one-time task. Life circumstances change over time, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children or grandchildren, and changes in your financial situation or health. Failing to update your estate plan to reflect these changes can result in unintended consequences and render your estate plan ineffective.

It’s crucial to review and update your estate plan regularly, at least once every three to five years, or whenever a significant life event occurs. This ensures that your estate plan remains current and aligns with your current wishes and circumstances. An experienced estate planning attorney in Arizona can assist you in reviewing and updating your estate plan to ensure it reflects your current intentions and complies with the most up-to-date state laws.

Not Properly Funding Your Trust

A trust is a valuable estate planning tool that allows you to transfer assets to a separate legal entity to be managed and distributed according to your instructions. However, simply creating a trust is not enough; you must also properly fund it by transferring ownership of your assets to the trust.

Many people make the mistake of creating a trust but failing to transfer their assets into it. This can result in those assets being subject to probate or distributed according to state law, which may not align with your wishes. To avoid this mistake, it’s essential to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your trust is properly funded. This may involve changing the title of your assets, updating beneficiary designations, and transferring ownership of assets to the trust as required by Arizona law.

Overlooking Digital Assets

In today’s digital age, most individuals have online accounts and digital assets, such as social media accounts, email accounts, online banking, and digital photo libraries. However, many people overlook these digital assets when creating their estate plans, which can result in them being inaccessible or lost after their passing.

To avoid this mistake, make sure to include provisions in your estate plan that address your digital assets. This may include designating a digital executor, providing instructions for accessing and managing your digital accounts, and specifying how you want your digital assets to be handled, whether it’s transferring ownership, deleting accounts, or memorializing social media profiles. Be sure to keep a detailed inventory of your digital assets and provide instructions for accessing them, along with login details. An experienced estate planning attorney in Arizona can help you create the appropriate provisions to ensure your digital assets are handled according to your wishes.

Not Planning for Incapacity

Incapacity planning is an important but often overlooked component of estate planning. By creating a power of attorney, you can ensure that your financial and medical affairs are managed according to your wishes if you become incapacitated due to illness or injury. Without a power of attorney, someone will need to seek court approval to manage your affairs, a process that can be lengthy and costly.

Creating a power of attorney requires careful consideration to ensure it reflects your wishes and meets the requirements of Arizona law. An experienced estate planning attorney in Arizona can advise you on selecting the appropriate type of power of attorney for your situation and ensuring it is legally valid. Additionally, make sure to review and update your power of attorney regularly to ensure it remains current.

Not Having a Plan For Long-Term Care

Long-term care can be expensive and is not typically covered by health insurance. It’s important to have an estate plan that considers the potential need for long-term care, such as in-home or nursing home care. Creating a plan for long-term care can help protect your assets and ensure that your wishes are honored. This may include creating a special needs trust or utilizing other estate planning tools to provide for long-term care while preserving assets. An experienced estate planning attorney in Arizona can help you create an appropriate plan to meet your unique goals and circumstances.

Not Updating Your Plan Regularly

Estate plans should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they remain valid and up-to-date. This is especially important if you experience major life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, a move to another state, the death of a spouse or beneficiary, or changes in the tax laws.

Having an up-to-date estate plan is essential for ensuring your wishes are followed and your loved ones are taken care of after you pass away. Avoid making these five common mistakes by working with an experienced Arizona estate planning attorney who can help you create a comprehensive estate plan tailored to your needs.

Our Expert’s Take On This

Planning for the future of your estate can seem overwhelming, but with some careful thought and the right resources, it can be simple. Investing in an experienced estate planning attorney can make all the difference in ensuring that your plan meets your individual needs and objectives. Failing to properly plan ahead may lead to costly financial and legal consequences, so following these steps is a must! Education is key in estate planning – understanding Arizona law, staying aware of the latest legislation, knowing what documents are needed, and making sure everything is up to date means no surprises down the road. Here’s our expert’s take on this: “No matter how you cut it, being prepared is better than being sorry.” The same goes for estate planning in Arizona – if you fail to plan correctly now, you may end up embroiled in a messy court case later. Don’t let that happen! Take the time today to get an estate plan set up for your future.

Are You Looking for an Estate Planning Attorney You Can Trust?


Are you looking for a team of attorneys passionate about providing peace of mind for families? Look no further than GillespieShields. While we excel in various legal fields, Estate Planning is our bread and butter. We believe that every family deserves to have their affairs in order and their wishes carried out regardless of their circumstances. That’s why we fight tirelessly to ensure your estate plan is comprehensive and customized to your needs.

From navigating complex probate cases to determining custody arrangements for your children, our experienced attorneys are here to guide you every step of the way. We understand that the legal process can be overwhelming and confusing, so we offer private, one-on-one consultations to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have.

So, if you’re ready to secure your family’s future and gain peace of mind, contact us today to schedule your consultation with Arizona’s premier Estate Planning Attorneys at GillespieShields.


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