Distributing Assets & Property under Arizona Law
Estate planning is a process where your objectives for the management and disposition of your property are analyzed and action is taken to ensure that those objectives are accomplished. Once you have defined your objectives, your estate planning attorney prepares documents to put that plan into effect. While a will is almost always a part of the plan, other documents are often used as well and these include trust agreements, powers of attorney for heath care and property, living wills, life insurance policies, and buy-sell agreements etc.
A will is a document that controls how your property is distributed at death. In Arizona, you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind and memory to make a will. The will must be signed by the maker and by two witnesses in a special manner who should not be beneficiaries under the will.
When an Arizona resident dies leaving an estate, the court shall determine who is to receive the estate and the court ensures that all debts and expenses are paid. If the person dies without a will, the court appoints an administrator to settle the estate and make the distributions as provided by Illinois law, after all debts, taxes and expenses have been paid.
While everyone has the right to write a will and it is strongly encouraged, it is not compulsory. If there is no will, the court shall distribute the property according to a distribution plan established by law.
The Value of Having a Will
How this distribution happens depends on the circumstances of each individual situation. For example, if the decedent left behind a surviving spouse and two children, the surviving spouse would get half and the children get the other half. A will has a significant value because it allows you to make a planned distribution of your estate according to your wishes as opposed to having your property distributed under a fixed statutory distribution.
A will allows you to distribute your assets and property as you see fit and to take care of your individual needs and goals. In today’s modern world where second marriages and blended families are the norm, a will allows you to tailor a plan that fits your family’s dynamics.
Distributing Assets through a Trust
When you create a trust under your will it’s called a testamentary trust and when you create it while you’re alive it’s called a “living” or “intervivos” trust. The living trust allows you to manage the trust property during your lifetime while passing it down to your beneficiaries at death without the need for probate. Once you die, the trust assets are distributed to your beneficiaries according to the directions you set forth in the trust.
If you want to control where your assets go and to whom upon your death, it’s necessary to work with an experienced Arizona estate planning attorney who can help you clearly define your long-term goals and put a plan into action that will allow you to accomplish those goals.
Are you looking for a lawyer for estate planning? With nearly 30 years of experience, we can help you create a plan that would distribute your assets the way you want them to while minimizing taxes as much as possible. Contact Ferris, Thompson & Zweig today by calling (480) 543-8700.