It’s Never Too Late — or Too Early — To Set Up an Estate Plan
Arizona estate planning attorneys explain why everyone needs a plan for the future
They say there are only two certainties in life - death and taxes - and most people don't like preparing for either.
When people skip planning for these inevitabilities, however, a third certainty emerges - conflict.
If you die without a will, among other estate planning documents, the state decides how to split up your assets. Meanwhile, your loved ones are left to fight over who gets what and how to best honor your memory.
Creating an estate plan is a lot simpler than many people realize. Oftentimes, you just have to find an experienced, trusted, Arizona estate planning attorney. They'll take you through the process, offer advice, and solidify your plans.
Arizona estate planning steps
It's never too early - or late - to create an estate plan - a series of documents that outline what you want to happen when you die or if you are incapacitated.
This can save your family time, money, and afford your affairs privacy during the probate process. Everyone's situation is unique, but, in general, there are a handful of steps to creating an estate plan.
Step 1 - Create a trust and appoint an executor
One of your first actions will be to select an executor for your estate.
In Arizona, many people choose attorneys to fulfill this role. This is a good idea for two reasons:
- There are many actions that must be taken in order to move your assets through probate and become available to beneficiaries. To navigate these steps, it's important that your executor understand Arizona and federal tax, trust, and probate laws.
- A close family member or friend may find it difficult to execute your last wishes while grieving.
Step 2 - Set up a trust
Your trust is a legal entity that holds and distributes your assets according to your orders. One of the executor's jobs is to maintain the trust and make payouts.
Trusts often provide benefits to named and important people, children, and charities.
Step 3 - The will - who gets what, when, and how
A last will and testament defines who the beneficiaries of your estate are and what they will inherit.
Oftentimes, people create mechanisms for how assets are to be distributed. Some trusts require the beneficiaries to be a certain age to collect an inheritance, others set up a schedule of regular payments. Some have financial restrictions, as in when a trust is established for educational purposes.
Step 4 - Update as needed
Once your estate plan is complete, it is important to keep it up to date with your current wishes and lifestyle. Some of the reasons you might tweak your estate plan include:
- Changes in wealth and resources
- Portfolio complexity
- New family situations (birth, marriage, divorce, death)
- Implement current tax mitigation strategies
Our lawyers can put you on the right path
In Arizona, nearly every estate goes through probate. You know the government is going to eye your assets and settle your debts. So, it's best to give them a plan for how you want things done. The alternative is greater state involvement and, likely, family disputes.
The Law Firm of Brown & Jensen has decades of experience helping Arizonans make smart estate planning decisions that shield assets from overburdensome taxes and establish last wishes.
We proudly serve all of Arizona from offices in Chandler, Goodyear, Mesa, Payson, Peoria, Scottsdale, Show Low, and Tucson.