If you pass away without a will, your estate will be distributed according to your state’s intestacy laws. In Arizona, this usually means your estate will go first to any spouse and descendants you may have. If none of those are available, it will then go to any surviving parents or their descendants. That means that if you are estranged or on bad terms with any relatives, they could still end up benefiting from your estate if you pass away without a will.
Only people legally related to you stand to benefit from intestate succession, so you will need to plan your estate if you want to leave anything to friends, mentors, or anyone else that isn’t a relative. You can also leave money to charitable organizations through your estate plan.
You have the option of revoking your will by destroying it, or creating a new will that indicates it is meant to revoke the original will. You can also change your will by creating a valid codicil. A codicil is a legal document that changes a will without completely replacing it. The method you choose will typically depend on how extensive the changes are that you want to make.
Changing your will, trusts, and other estate planning documents will not change the beneficiaries on your life insurance and other insurance policies. You will need to individually change your policies to reflect any changes that you made to your estate planning documents.
Many people assume that if they are listed in someone’s will, they will receive the assets almost immediately. This isn’t true- the probate process usually takes at least a few months, and could drag on for years. This will depend on how quickly the executor completes all necessary tasks, and if anyone challenges or disputes your will.
Due to cultural, religious, or personal beliefs, family members can vary widely on how they would like comas and certain other medical conditions in a loved one to be handled. A famous example of this would be the case of Terri Schiavo, who was 26 when she went into cardiac arrest which caused brain damage. She was in a persistent vegetative state for about 8 years before her husband petitioned the court to discontinue life support. Her parents disagreed with his decision, and fought to continue life support for an additional 8 years before the court eventually sided with her husband. While most cases aren’t nearly this tumultuous, you can save your family members stress and tension by creating advanced healthcare directives to indicate your wishes in these types of situations.
Actually, one of the main benefits of using trusts is that the funds or assets in them won’t need to go through probate after you pass away. This means that your family will receive the asset quickly, and without paying probate costs. You can create either a revocable or an irrevocable trust for your loved ones. The trust can continue to accrue interest, rental income, and otherwise increase in value until it transfers to the recipient after your death or when a certain condition is met. Probate matters are also public, so transferring assets through trusts can maintain both the grantor’s and the beneficiary’s privacy.
Some people may be able to get away with court forms when planning their estates. But if you have significant assets, minor children, or simply wish to make your wishes known for potential medical emergencies, it’s important to have a valid and clearly worded estate plan. This can reduce the potential for delays in probate court, and the amount of taxes that will be deducted from your estate. Furthermore, hiring an estate planning attorney can be surprisingly affordable. Give yourself the peace of mind knowing your loved ones will be provided for when you pass away- call or use our online form to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced Arizona estate planning attorneys today.