Even for people with few assets and simple estates, Arizona wills are an important document to have. This document makes it easier for your loved ones to honor your last wishes, simplifying the settlement of your estate with as little conflict as possible. Here’s what you should know about last wills and testaments vs. trusts and living wills. At ARTEMiS Law Firm, we’re dedicated to helping you understand all of your estate planning options.
What is an Arizona will?
When people talk about Arizona wills, they’re generally referring to a last will and testament. Simply, a last will and testament specifies how you would like your estate to be settled after your death.
In addition, you can make a few additional provisions communicating your wishes if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself or communicate your wishes due to illness or injury.
Last will and testament
A last will and testament is often referred to simply as a will. The testament portion of this legal name makes it clear that this is a statement you have made in a state of good and clear judgement.
In Arizona, last will and testament provisions may include:
– Naming an personal representative (in some states called executor): Your personal representative is responsible for carrying out the instructions in the will
– Providing for minor children: Including naming a desired guardian for your minor children as well as making financial provisions for their care
– Distribution of assets: This may include real property, personal property, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and more
– Payment of liens or debts
Some people confuse a last will and testament with a trust. The major difference between a will and a trust is that a last will and testament comes into play after death and generally makes provisions to distribute assets and pay debts immediately following death.
A trust, on the other hand, can be active during a person’s lifetime and continue for a long time following a person’s death. A trust often provides more legal protections, and can also help you avoid probate. Click here for more information about the differences.
This may be the most emotionally challenging aspect of writing your will: creating a living will. Generally, living wills are created at the same time as your last will and testament.
Living wills instruct your family members or personal representative on the treatment you would like to receive if you became terminally ill or entered a persistent vegetative state, and are unable to communicate your own instructions.
Medical directives are typically included to provide guidance to your loved ones as to what types of treatment you would want, such as the level of intervention you would like for medical emergencies. These decisions are put into place while you are still able to understand, reason, and make informed judgments.
If you become unable to make such choices due to physical or mental incapacity, and do not have a living will in place, a health care representative will be asked to make treatment decisions on your behalf. Generally, this is a spouse or other close family member.
If you have not made your wishes clear in a living will and your personal representative does not know what your wishes are, they must decide in good faith what would be in your best interests under the circumstances. They’ll consider:
– Relief from suffering
– Whether functioning will be preserved or restored
– The quality and extent of sustained life
Making your wishes clear is one of the kindest things you can do for your loved ones. No one wants to be put in the position of making a life-or-death decision, especially at such an emotional time.
Many people confuse a living will and a living trust. While a living will outlines medical directives should you become incapacitated, a living trust is concerned with managing your assets if you are unable to do so.
A living trust will not decide whether or not to withhold medical assistance in the event of an emergency, but it will make provisions for continued payments to creditors and beneficiaries, manage investments, and handle other financial decisions on your behalf.
What else should I know about Arizona wills?
Many wills and living trusts confer powers of attorney to an individual. This is an integral part of the process and provides legal standing to the person of your choice so that person can make decisions for you should you become unable to make your own medical or financial decisions.
Because there are so many complex relationships in creating end-of-life documents, working with an experienced attorney can help clarify which choices are right for you.
A last will and testament can stand alone, or it may be part of a trust. There are tax and probate implications for each option. Especially if you have a larger estate, you should work with an attorney who can thoroughly explain all of your options.
How ARTEMiS Law Firm can help with Arizona wills
At ARTEMiS Law Firm, our goal is to help you make your wishes clear in a simple, painless process. Discussing end-of-life provisions can generate strong emotions and conflict among family members.
We help you communicate clearly, explaining everyone’s role in the process and outlining all of their responsibilities. We also help safeguard your property and assets to the fullest extent, and help you avoid probate when possible.
With ARTEMiS Law Firm, we create a clear and manageable plan that everyone in your family can easily understand and implement without extensive legal guidance.
ARTEMiS Law Firm specializes in creating a last will and testament that fits your unique situation. We have advanced experience in estate planning and family law and can help you protect your loved ones after you are gone. Fill out our form to get started or give us a call at (480) 948-7825.Contact Us