How Does a Will Work?
A will is a written document that directs the disposition of a person’s property upon his or her death. A will can also nominate a person to serve as guardian of minor children and as conservator of a minor child’s estate. In fact, a will is the only instrument capable of making such a nomination.
If you die without a will, you have no control over these issues and many more. The State of Arizona will dispose of your property according to law, which can end up being very different from what you would have wanted. The Court will appoint a person to serve as guardian for your children and conservator of your estate and will appoint a personal representative to handle the affairs of probating your estate. All of a sudden something very person becomes impersonal.
Additional Benefits to Having a Will
As a practical matter, a will helps your family members, heirs, and beneficiaries not to have any lofty expectations for the disposition of your property when you pass away. A will helps to keep the peace among family members as it truly is a testament of how your personal wishes are to be carried out. Without a will many times families find themselves in discord and an already difficult situation is made worse.
In addition, while a will alone is not capable of avoiding probate, it can help to reduce the costs of probate. For example, you can save on the expense of the bond premium required for the personal representative by waiving that requirement when you draft your will. It is possible to even reduce other expenses such as administrative or taxes with a well written will. Therefore not only should you draft a will but you should have it done by an experienced estate planning attorney who can do it correctly for you and avoid future claims against your will.
Do I Need An Attorney?
Although there is no legal requirement that a person use an attorney when drafting a will, there are several pitfalls that occur on a regular basis when people do not take advantage of the expertise and guidance an attorney provides. For example, many people understand that the will has to be signed and witnessed by two witnesses. However, many people have family members witness the signature. While this is perfectly adequate for the signing and witnessing portion, it can have the effect of disqualifying the family member witness from taking under the will as a beneficiary, even if the will says differently. This situation is called an interested witness. In Arizona, luckily, an interested witness does not disqualify the witness from taking under the will but it does open the door to a later claim against the will by way of undue influence. This is just one example of many. There really is only one way of ensuring your will is executed properly and that is through the guidance of an estate planning attorney.
Consult With An Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer
The cost of preparing a will with the help of one of our estate planning lawyers at Platt & Westby, P.C., is a modest fixed fee. Often the savings of the surety bond premium alone is greater than the fee for preparation of your will. To begin the process of preparing a will, please download the Will Worksheet. Then contact our office or call 602-277-4441 to speak with one of our experienced Phoenix wills lawyers at Platt & Westby, P.C.