Why Get a Will?
Wills are an essential component of estate planning and property protection. In Arizona, if you die without a will, your property will be automatically divided and passed on to a surviving spouse, children, or other family members. Without a will, these decisions are made by the state under predetermined laws (intestate succession laws) without regard to what your surviving family members want. Therefore, it is essential to have a will drawn up if you wish to allocate certain property to specific people. A will is a way to ensure your property goes only to the people you want.
Do I Need a Will?
For all the benefits that a will offers, it’s astounding that 46% of adults die without a will. Wills allow you to specify who gets what after you die, essentially fending off property disputes before they occur. If you have minor children, a will enables you to assign a legal guardian for them after your death, thereby securing their future. Anyone who has personal property, minor children, or specific instructions they would like followed after death should have a will created. The Phoenix, AZ law office of Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb has been practicing estate planning law since 1985, and we prepare wills that fit perfectly into your overall estate plan.
What Does a Will Do?
A will allows you to leave instructions for dividing your property after you die. You can also use a will to name an executor to enact the will, decide on guardians for surviving children, dictate how taxes and/or debts will be paid, and back up a living trust. To make a will, you must have the mental and legal capacity, otherwise known as being of sound mind. After drawing up the will, it will need to be signed by two witnesses.
While simple wills can be drawn up by an individual, however, a more complicated will necessitates the need for an attorney to navigate the complicated legal language involved. After death, a will is taken to probate, where it is officially implemented and property is divided and distributed. Probate can be a notoriously long process, and a will that is not drawn up correctly will only extend the timeline and may even create discrepancies.
Is a Will the Only Document I Need?
No, a will is not enough to cover all property and assets. In fact, many assets are not covered by a will at all. Jointly owned property and assets will need to be delegated in a living trust to be divided in the way you wish. Assets like retirement accounts, life insurance proceeds, and jointly owned vehicles or property cannot be included in a will because they are not legally owned by you alone. If you co-own any property or have retirement accounts, you will need an attorney to create a trust for you.
By using an experienced attorney, you may even see tax benefits and an increase in value of your assets. Living trusts can also help you to avoid probate in the future and save a substantial amount in probate fees and costs. The attorneys at Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb have been practicing estate planning since 1985. We know how to get the most out of your living trust and your will.
In addition to providing estate planning expertise, Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb are specialists in several other law practices, including family law and business law. We take the time to listen to our clients’ individual needs and develop personalized strategies for each. We believe in taking a passionate and personable approach to all of our clients, and we will fight aggressively for your case.