Planning For The ‘What-Ifs’

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Last Will And Testament

A will is the most common way for you to convey your property to family members or charities that you support after your death. Working with a Phoenix lawyer to draft your will also provides a way to appoint a guardian and conservator for your minor children and name a personal representative to carry out the terms of your will when you die. Having a will is a way to protect your family in the event of your death and to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

In Arizona, a will needs to go through probate, which is the process of legally establishing its validity in a court of law and qualifying your personal representative to administer your estate. Probate can be expensive and time-consuming, although Arizona has created a streamlined process for estates under $50,000. If your estate is a large one, in excess of $5.34 million after adjustments (as of 2014), it will be subject to federal inheritance taxes.


If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed as determined by Arizona’s intestacy laws. In that event, your possessions will go first to your spouse and children if you have them; if not, your nearest living relatives – your parents, grandchildren, siblings and so on – will be in line to inherit from you. If you are found to have no living relatives at all, the state will take your property.

A Will Is One Of Several Options

A will, or last will and testament, is only one of several ways to convey your property. Whether it is the best option for you will depend on your personal circumstances and wishes. Therefore, it is important to consult an experienced West Valley and Maricopa County estate planning lawyer who can advise you on the options available to you and the advantages and disadvantages of each choice. You may choose to write a will either alone or in combination with one or more trusts, or you may even want to pass along some of your assets directly to family members during your lifetime.

If you live in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sun City, Sun City West or anywhere in the surrounding area, you can find the answers to all your questions about planning your estate by contacting us at Gorman Law Group, PLC. We are devoted exclusively to elder law, estate planning and related matters, so we are highly focused, skilled and experienced in this area of practice. We will explain the advantages and disadvantages of wills relative to other options and advise you as to whether a will is the best choice for your situation. We can also answer your questions about wills, such as those below.

How Do Wills Work?

When a testator (the person creating the will) creates a legally sound will, they will ensure that your assets, such as real estate, insurance policy payments, cash and heirlooms, go to the beneficiaries you have selected. This process often avoids complex probate procedures that can delay the time it takes for beneficiaries to receive their inheritance by weeks, months or longer.

How Do Taxes Affect A Will?

There may be tax implications that apply for any assets before they go to a beneficiary. Arizona does not have any estate or inheritance taxes, but other states do. If you are receiving an inheritance from another state, their tax laws may apply to your inheritance.

How Are Wills Different From Trusts?

Wills are legal documents that dictate the dispersal of assets after your passing. They are one of the most common documents that people turn to after a loved one passes on. Trusts are fiduciary arrangements that allow a grantor/trustor (the person giving the assets) to specify how and when the assets disperse, even before the grantor’s passing.

Beneficiary Deeds

If real property is part of your estate, Arizona law has made it possible to transfer it using an instrument called a beneficiary deed, by which you can transfer real estate upon your death without probate. In some cases, you can combine a beneficiary deed with a will to eliminate having to create a trust as a means to avoid probate, which is more complicated. At Gorman Law Group, PLC, we can explain the use of a beneficiary deed and draft one as a part of your estate planning strategy if it is appropriate.

Guardianship And Conservatorship For Minors

Another function of a will when you are a parent of young children is – in the event of the death of both parents – to appoint a guardian who will care for your minor children until they reach age 18. This might be a close relative or friend. A conservator is a person who will handle a child’s financial affairs until the age of 18.

Free Consultation With A Phoenix Wills Lawyer Today

We never know what the future holds, making guardianship and conservatorship all the more important. You may be in vibrant good health today, but the years have a way of taking their toll, and many people become physically and/or mentally incapacitated in their later years and must depend on others for their care. You can use a will to name a guardian for yourself, designating the person you wish to care for you should the need arise, or a conservator – someone who will manage your financial affairs if you are no longer able to do so yourself. One person can serve as both guardian and conservator.

At Gorman Law Group, PLC, you can count on our knowledgeable advice and detailed preparation of all estate-related documents. You can rest easy knowing that whatever the future holds, you are prepared and your family is taken care of. Call our office at 623-278-6102 to schedule a free consultation with a skilled attorney today.