In Arizona, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone determines what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you truly want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for truly implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these intentions.
In addition to decisions regarding the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For instance, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your preference on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such arrangements for you, if you are unable.
A knowledgeable estate planner in Arizona may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Moreover, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in Arizona
Estate plans in Arizona almost always have these elements:
Will: A will permits you to control what is done with your property after your death. You can usually give your property to whoever you want, and make these gifts conditional. However, a will can only control another person's behavior insofar as placing conditions on gifts ("you don't get this money unless you spend the night in a haunted house"). The beneficiary doesn't HAVE to do anything if they don't want to, and are willing to surrender the money or property you left them.
Power of Attorney: This is an arrangement that gives another person the power to make certain decisions, typically related to finances and medical care, on your behalf, if you become incapacitated or disabled, and consequently unable to make or express your own decisions. You can choose who you give this authority to. For obvious reasons, it should be somebody you trust.
Funeral Arrangements: If you have any preference whatsoever on how your mortal remains should be handled, you should make it clear to your family, in writing. You should additionally make the necessary arrangements with a funeral home, in advance. If possible, you should try to pay in advance for your funeral expenses, to save your survivors the further burden of planning and paying for a funeral. These arrangements should be laid out somewhere other than in your will, because a will typically isn't read for days or weeks after the testator's death, by which point it is usually too late.
Do I Need an Arizona Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning is very important (if you care about what happens to your family after your death), and can involve some pretty challenging decisions. It should be clear, then, that a reliable Arizona estate planning attorney will likely be worth the cost, because they can give your wishes the best possible chance of taking effect.
Interesting Facts About Arizona
Arizona is a state located in the southwestern United States. Known for its distinct southwestern culture and arid climate, Arizona's economy is largely influenced by the vacation and tourism industries. Arizona is the 48th state and the last of the "contiguous" (mainland) U.S. states to achieve statehood.
Arizona's capital city is Phoenix. The Capitol Building is famous for its distinctive architecture, which features a copper dome. The dome is said to represent the state's nickname, "The Copper State". The Capitol Building is mostly used for historical exhibits in the museum located within. The Arizona State Legislature meets in buildings adjacent to the original Capitol building. Arizona is known for its collection of unique laws, particularly in the areas of open carry gun laws, immigration policies, same-sex marriage, and motorcycle laws.
The judicial system of Arizona is formed by several different levels and branches of courts. These include the Arizona Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, Superior Courts, and Justice of the Peace Courts. There are also over 80 Municipal Courts in Arizona. Unlike in other states, municipal judges and justices of the peace are not required to be lawyers.
Lawyers in Arizona practice law according to the highest professional and ethical standards, which are set both nationally and locally by state authorities. Arizona lawyers are often at the forefront of the nation's legal trends and policies. An experienced attorney in Arizona can assist you with legal inquiries or disputes in court.