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Probate, Wills & Trusts

Wachtel Biehn and Malm has been providing Estate Planning services for over 30 years. This is an essential aspect of everyoneís life; however, not many individuals realize the importance of having a WILL, TRUST or POWER OF ATTORNEY. These are important legal documents which can protect your loved ones when they need you the most; after you pass away. Call Steve Biehn at (928) 855-5115.

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 done in compliance with the laws of the state in which the Will was executed. If your Will is old, you should make certain your wishes with your property are still the same. Arizona law has some useful provisions such as personal property gift provisions and self-proving Will provisions which might make an update worthwhile.

If I don't have a Will, will the State of Arizona get my property?
Probably not. If you donít have a Will, the statutes of the State of Arizona provide that your assets then pass to your spouse, children, grand children, mother and father, brothers and sisters, or nieces and nephews. However, a Will allows you to provide the exact amount of your estate you wish your specifics heirs to receive.

What is probate?
It is the court-supervised process whereby a deceasedís assets are used to pay his or her obligations with the balance going to the heirs. Arizona has adopted the Uniform Probate Code, which makes probates easier, faster and less expensive than in most jurisdictions.

Why does it take so long to probate an estate?
The probate procedures in most states require appraisals, a number of formal hearings and formalized accounting procedures. Fortunately, Arizona probates are governed by the Uniform Probate Code. Appraisals are seldom required, there is only one formal hearing (and this is frequently waived) and accountings are simple and straightforward. Most estates are completely probated and distributions made in six to ten months. Partial distributions are frequently made earlier. In Arizona the probate process is substantially less painful than in most states. However, if you own property in another state it can be very cumbersome.

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

Are there things I can do now to avoid the probate process?
Yes. The most common method used to avoid probate is the utilization of a Living Trust. Assets in the trust are transferred by the successor trustee without supervision by a probate court. It is important that you have considerable confidence in your appointed successor trustee.

Should everyone have a Living Trust?
Not necessarily. Some heirs will benefit from the protection from creditors offered by probate. Others will benefit from the supervision a court provides for the distribution of your estate in probate. Trusts may be particularly appropriate for widows or widowers, who own real property in another state, in second marriage situations, and when assets exceeds the federal estate tax exemption. In 2013 the exemption is $5.1 million dollars.

I have been invited to a seminar on Living Trusts. Is it worth the time and effort to go?
Certainly. Remember the primary purpose of the "seminar" is not to educate you, but to sell you a Living Trust. A Living Trust has been in existence for at least 60 years. In recent years they have become the a trend-like commodity to solve the estate problems of a generally unsuspecting public. Trusts solve some problems and can create others. Do not let anyone tell you differently. If you need a Trust, it should be prepared specifically for you after a number of conferences with your attorney who should go over it with you and explain each and every provision in the Trust and related documents.

What are the tax ramifications on my estate when I die?
Unless your estate exceeds the federal estate tax exemption, there will be no federal or estate taxes on your estate. Your personal representative or successor trustee is of course responsible for paying income taxes on your income earned during the year you pass away. If your estate exceeds the federal estate tax exemption, your estate may have both federal and state taxes to pay and these taxes can be quite onerous. There are some notable deductions, particularly; any bequest to your surviving spouse will never be taxed. In most cases, with a little prior planning, estate taxes can be avoided or reduced. Call to set up a consultation with Steve Biehn and will likely save your estate a substantial sum of money.

How necessary is a Power of Attorney especially in your senior years?
A Durable Power of Attorney is a very important legal document any adult, regardless of age, should have. This document designates someone of your choice to handle your financial affairs in the event you become incapacitated. It is effective only on your incapacity and when you have recovered it ceases to be operative. The person you designated operates on your behalf in a fiduciary capacity, and is accountable for every action taken. This simple document avoids costly guardian and conservator proceedings and is recommended 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.

Areas of practice:

  1. Personal Injury (Car, Motorcycle, Boat, Dog Bites)
  2. Wrongful Death
  3. Criminal/ DUI
  4. Wills, Trusts, Estates and Probate
  5. Business Law
  6. Real Estate
  7. Construction Law


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