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What is an Estate and why do Estate Planning?

The attorneys at GillespieShields practice family, employment, civil, criminal, probate, appellate, and immigration law.

What is an Estate?

When many read or hear the word “estate,” they picture a large castle or manor surrounded by well-maintained, flower-filled gardens, meandering pathways, perhaps a lake (or two), and acres of luscious, green rolling hills located somewhere in a remote English countryside, the entirety of which is either owned or occupied by a very wealthy individual or family.  Although such a place could be correctly identified as an estate, the actual definition of “estate” is much broader, more inclusive, and applies to not only the rich and famous but also to people with low to average incomes and modest savings and investments–and everyone in between.

Do I Have an Estate?

If you own any asset, you have an estate.  An estate includes all the assets that you own, including land, houses, bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks, bonds, precious metals, collectibles, jewelry, art, pets, vehicles, retirement accounts (IRAs, 401(k)s, and other tax-deferred plans), insurance contracts (including annuities), ownership interests in business entities (partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies, etc.), intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, and patents), and don’t forget all your personal property (clothes, dishes, furniture, dishware, appliances, musical instruments, stereo equipment, computers, and tools).  As you receive income from work, interest, profits, inheritance, or any other source, that income also becomes a part of your estate.

What Questions Should I be Asking Myself?

During your lifetime you acquire, accumulate, manage, and use your assets for the benefit of yourself, your family, and others.  You are in control and you alone decide how to use and what to do with these assets, but what happens when you become disabled or die, you are no longer able to efficiently, effectively, or reasonably manage your assets?  Who will manage the assets on your behalf?  Will the person or people managing your assets be individuals that you know and trust?  Will they manage the assets for your benefit or their own?  Will anyone be supervising them and holding them accountable?  Will your assets be protected, and, if so, how? Will your loss of ability to manage the assets impact those you care about?  Will the assets be lost or wasted?  All these questions and many more pass through the minds of each of us as we age—or at least they should.

Why Should I Do Estate Planning?

Estate planning involves helping individuals, couples, and families plan for the inevitable—disability and death.  No one enjoys thinking, talking about, or dealing with the reality that one day they will die, but a little bit of advance thought and planning can not only save you money and avoid hassles in the long run, but also provide you and your loved-ones with some peace of mind.  Estate planning enables you to exercise control over your decision-making regarding not only your property, but also your health care for as long as possible and, in the case of property, even after you die.

A Team You Can Trust

An experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Arizona can help you take power over your estate away from the court system and place it in the hands of its rightful heirs. Additional provisions can take immediate effect should an illness or accident render you unable to make your own decisions regarding health care, financial matters, and other essential factors of life. Contact GillespieShields or call 602-870- 9700 anytime for estate planning assistance in the Phoenix and Mesa areas of Arizona.


The information contained on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for legal advice concerning your individual situation. We welcome you to contact us via phone, electronic mail, or through this website. However, contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send us confidential information until such time as an attorney-client relationship is established.



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