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Free Estate Planning info.

Free Estate Planning info.

Planning your estate is easy... with a little help.
Here are a few frequently asked questions with their answers to help make it a little easier.

I just moved to Arizona from out of state. Do I need a new will?
No, so long as your out of state will was donein compliance with the laws of the state in whichthe will was executed. If your will is old you shouldmake certain that your wishes as to what is donewith your property are still the same. Arizona lawprovides for some useful provisions such as personalproperty gift provisions and self-proving will provisionsthat might make an update worthwhile.

If I don't have a will, will the State of Arizona get my property?
Probably not. If you don’t have a will the Statutesof the State of Arizona provide that your assetsthen pass to your spouse, children, grand children,mother and father, brothers and sisters, or niecesand nephews. However, a will allows you to providethe exact amount of your estate any heir will receive.

What is probate?
It is the court-supervised process whereby adeceased’s assets are used to pay his or her obligationswith the balance going to the heirs. Arizona hasadopted the Uniform Probate Code, which makes probateseasier, faster and less expensive than in most jurisdictions.

Why does it take so long to probate an estate?
The probate procedures in most states requireappraisals, a number of formal hearings and formalizedaccounting procedures. Fortunately, Arizona probatesare governed by the uniform probate code. Appraisalsare seldom required, there is only one formal hearing(and this is frequently waived) and accountings aresimple and straightforward. Most estates are completelyprobated and distributions made in four to six months.Partial distributions are frequently made earlier.In Arizona the probate process is substantially lesspainful than in most states. However, if you ownproperty in another state it can be very cumbersome.See your attorney. You may be a candidate for a revocabletrust.

Does having a will help to avoid a probate of my estate when I die?
No. A will simply directs where your assets shouldgo among your heirs and who should be in charge ofthe distribution.


Are there things I can do now to avoid the probate process?
Yes. The most common method used to avoid probateis the utilization of a living trust.

Do living trusts avoid the probate process?
They most certainly do. Assets in the trust aretransferred by the Successor Trustee without supervisionby a probate court. It is important that you haveconsiderable confidence in your appointed SuccessorTrustee.

Shouldn't everyone have a living trust?
Not necessarily. Persons still active in businessmay find a trust inconvenient. Some will benefitfrom the protection from creditors offered by probate.Others will benefit from the supervision that a courtprovides for the distribution of your estate in probate.Trusts may be particularly appropriate for widowsor widowers, if you own real property in anotherstate, in second marriage situations, and when acouple’s assets exceeds the federal estate tax exemption.In 1999 that exemption is $650,000 but the exemptionincreases gradually so that in 2006 the exemptionwill be $1,000,000.

I have been invited to a seminar on living trusts. Is it worth the time and effort to go?
Certainly. You may learn something, and the coffeeand cookies are usually free. But remember the primarypurpose of the "seminar" is not to educateyou, but to sell you a living trust. Livingtrusts in their present form have been in existencefor at least 60 years. In recent years they havebecome the hot new commodity to solve the estateproblems of a generally unsuspecting public. Trustssolve some problems and create others. Do not letanyone tell you differently. If you need a trustit should be prepared specifically for you aftera number of conferences with your attorney who shouldgo over with you and explain each and every provisionin the trust and related documents.

What are the tax ramifications on my estate when I die?
Unless your estate exceeds the federal estatetax exemption, there will be no federal or estatetaxes on your estate. Your personal representativeor successor trustee is of course responsible forpaying income taxes on your income earned duringthe last year of your life. If your estate exceedsthe federal estate tax exemption, your estate mayhave both federal and state taxes to pay and thesetaxes can be quite confiscatory. There are some notabledeductions, particularly; any bequest to your survivingspouse will never be taxed. In most cases, with alittle prior planning, estate taxes can be avoidedor reduced. A consultation with your attorney willlikely save your estate a substantial sum of money.

How much should I expect to pay for a Will or a Living Trust?
Simple wills, that is, a will that makes a directdistribution of your property to an heir or heirs,should cost about $150 to $175 for a husband andwife. Complex wills with trusts and tax provisionsare likely to cost a couple of hundred dollars more.Likewise, a simple trust should cost between $650and $750, but trusts with provisions to escape orplan for tax provisions will generally cost a coupleof hundred dollars more.

All trusts should include a pourover will, a durablepower of attorney with medical provisions, a livingwill, certificates of trust, and other related documents.The attorney should assist you with getting all ofyour assets, including real property, into the trust,and make certain that you fully understand and arecomfortable with the trust that you have created.

How necessary is a Power of Attorney especially in your senior years?
A Durable Power of Attorney is probablythe most important legal document that any adult,regardless of age, should have. This document designatessomeone of your choice to handle your affairs inthe event you become incapacitated. It is effectiveonly on your incapacity and when you have recoveredit ceases to be operative. The person you designatedoperates on your behalf in a fiduciary capacity,and is accountable for every action taken. This simpledocument avoids costly guardian or conservator proceedingsand is a must for every person regardless of the size of your estate.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. The newsletters and articles on this website are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. They are not offered as and do not constitute legal advice or legal opinions. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.