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Estate Planning With Wills in Arizona

A will is a valuable estate planning tool that helps people prepare for the future and provide for their loved ones. A will provides confidence knowing a plan is in place in the event of their death.

At Hildebrand Law, our Arizona estate planning attorneys help people consider the full range of legal tools available to make decisions about what happens to their assets in the future, instead of leaving it up to lawyers and judges after they are gone. We are seasoned attorneys with decades of combined experience assisting clients across the state.

We understand it is not easy for people to think about and plan for their death. Our attorneys take the time to understand each client’s unique situation, explain the various options, and develop an approach suited to their individual goals and needs.

How Wills Work in Arizona

A will is a legal document in which a person dictates how their assets will be distributed in the event of the person’s death. The document typically also names a personal representative to administer the will, ensuring any creditors are paid and the remaining assets are divided.

The primary benefit of a will is you get to decide where your property goes when you die. When a person passes away without a will or other estate planning tool in Arizona, any assets are divided according to the state’s intestacy law. The property generally goes first to a surviving spouse, followed by descendants and then heirs, but the specific distribution varies based on the circumstances.

There are several legal requirements to make a will valid. The document must be in writing and signed by the testator (the person making the will) and two witnesses. The testator must:

  • Be at least 18 years old at the time; 
  • Have the intent to make a will; and 
  • Have the capacity to understand what they are doing 

A will that does not meet these requirements may be subject to legal challenge. Wills can also be contested in court because they are the product of undue influence by someone who stands to gain from the distribution of the property.

The Arizona Probate Process

When a person dies with a valid will in place, the assets are usually distributed through a legal process called probate.

A judge will appoint a personal representative if needed, review the will and hear any challenges. The court will also ensure the personal representative has gathered all of the property, notified any creditors, and paid off any debts before the assets are distributed.

At Hildebrand Law, we help people use wills to ensure their wishes are carried out in the event of their death and avoid any potential challenges during the probate process. We also help clients explore alternatives, such as revocable trusts designed to avoid the probate process altogether.

Speak With an Arizona Estate Planning Lawyer

If you would like to make or update a will or are interested in exploring other estate planning tools, Hildebrand Law can help. Call us at (480)305-8300 or schedule an appointment online to speak with an Arizona estate planning lawyer at our firm.