The 5 Essential Parts of an Estate Plan In Arizona

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by | Dec 28, 2022 | Probate Law

Are you an Arizona resident looking to understand your estate planning options? Estate planning is an important part of ensuring that your wishes are realized after you have passed away or become unable to make decisions for yourself. To help in this endeavor, it is essential to understand the core elements necessary for proper estate planning in Arizona and what can be expected when engaging in these services. In this article, we’ll outline the five main parts of putting together a complete estate plan so that you can best ensure your assets and belongings are taken care of should anything happen to you!


A will is essential for any estate plan in Arizona because it outlines the wishes of an individual with regard to the distribution of assets after their death. Through a valid, legally binding will, a person can dictate who will receive what assets from their estate and how much they should receive. Without a will, state law dictates the distribution of assets, which could lead to individuals receiving more or less than the deceased intended for them. Additionally, having a will can save family members and other involved parties time and money by avoiding costly litigation that could be required if there was no legal document outlining the individual’s wishes.

In Arizona, will need to meet certain requirements in order to be legally binding.

  • They must be signed by two witnesses who are not related to the deceased or entitled to anything under the will.
  • These witnesses must also sign an “Attestation Clause” that states that they witnessed the signing of said will.
  • All beneficiaries listed in the will must have been identified at least 15 days before signing for a valid document – including their names, addresses, and relationships to each other as well as to the creator of the will. The maker of the said will must also be physically present at the time of signing and must have sufficient mental capacity for it to be considered valid in the eyes of the law.


Trust is an essential tool that allows you to manage your assets and ensure that they are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. A trust also enables you to protect yourself, your family, and your estate from potential financial risks associated with inheritance. When creating an Arizona Estate Plan, there are several essential elements that must be included in order for the trust to be valid and legally binding.

  • It is essential to identify who will be responsible for administering the trust. This person or entity is known as a “trustee” and must have the capacity to fulfill its duties as stated in the trust agreement. 
  • The trustee has a fiduciary duty to manage the assets of the trust according to its terms. Depending on your particular needs, it may be beneficial to hire a licensed attorney or accountant to handle certain aspects of managing your estate plan.
  • It is essential that all of the assets owned by the decedent at the time of death be identified and listed in detail within the trust document itself. The list should include not only physical property but also legal documents such as deeds and titles as well as bank accounts, brokerage accounts, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, and other investments.
  • Beneficiaries should understand any special conditions or restrictions associated with his/her share before signing off on the agreement since these can greatly affect how much money they receive upon distribution of assets.
  • It is important that provisions are made regarding payment of taxes due on inherited assets so that no unnecessary tax burden falls upon beneficiaries during what can already be a difficult time for them following their loved one’s passing.

Power of Attorney

The importance of having a Power of Attorney cannot be overstated, as it gives someone you trust power over essential decision-making for life matters when you may no longer be able to do so yourself due to physical or mental incapacity. It is essential that you carefully consider who you appoint as your Agent and discuss your wishes with them so that your desires are respected when it comes time for them to act on your behalf. You should also review your POA regularly and update it if necessary due to changes in circumstances such as moving out of state or appointing a new Agent.

Medical Directives

Medical directives are legally binding documents that outline the specific types of medical care or treatments you wish to receive at certain times during your life. In Arizona, this document is often referred to as an Advance Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, or Healthcare Power of Attorney (POA). 

This type of document allows someone to appoint another person as their agent to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so themselves. This can be helpful if someone falls into a coma or has a serious medical condition that renders them incapable of making decisions regarding their own health care.

Beneficiary Designations

In Arizona, beneficiary designations must be made in writing and must include the name of the beneficiary and the percentage or amount of money to be given. In addition to this essential information, other details such as specific instructions on how or when the beneficiary should receive payments may be included. It is important to note that if a beneficiary designation is included in a will or trust document without being properly named in writing with all essential details, it may not be legally binding after death.

If you have questions about how to get started on your estate plan, or which parts are right for you, give us a call today. Our team of experts will work with you to create a comprehensive and custom estate plan that meets all of your needs. Don’t wait until it’s too late, start planning for your future today!

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

At GillespieShields our attorneys have been practicing in the field of estate planning since 1985. During the past 30 years, we have developed effective strategies to plan your estate and reduce estate taxes. An estate plan doesn’t just consist of ways to save your tax dollars; they are complex strategies that work together to secure your family’s financial future. Our experienced attorneys can draft wills, create trusts, protect your assets, and help you avoid probate. Contact our office today to start planning for the future of your family. Based out of Phoenix and Mesa, AZ, we provide legal services across a broad spectrum of practices. Our teams have experience and passion for finding sustainable solutions to complex problems. Our AVVO ratings and badges range from excellent to superb, and two of our team attorneys have received Martindale-Hubbell client recognition awards. We are committed to providing effective representation and undeniable value to our clients. We hope you will contact us for any of your legal needs. During our private, one-on-one consultation, we’ll take the necessary time to answer all of our questions surrounding Arizona’s family laws, your family’s unique situation, and the possible court outcomes. Contact us today for your consultation!


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