Are Your Affairs In Order?
- Plan for the inevitable.
Did you know that as many as two-thirds of adult Americans don’t have a Last Will & Testament? Many people do not want to think about their own death. However, as we all know, whether we think about it or not, it will happen, and none of us know when. We may live to an old age - we may not. My office offers more affordable rates than most law firms.
- In relatively simple terms, estate planning is the process of setting up legal arrangements that convey your wishes regarding what will happen to you and your assets in the event of incapacity or death. Wills, trusts and powers of attorney are key components of estate planning, and there are several other documents that most choose to have in place to protect their loved ones from unnecessary pain, uncertainty or conflict.
- I offer a low-cost alternative to hiring a lawyer to prepare your legal documents. As uncomfortable as it may be to think about it, we are all going to die. Plan for the inevitable, and ensure that your loved ones are provided for, and that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes. I also frequently help clients navigate the Arizona probate process as efficiently and affordably as possible when a loved one passes away.
- I do everything possible to ensure your specific needs are met.
- Another factor that most people don’t consider is that long before a person dies, he or she may not have the mental capacity to execute his or her estate planning documents. For example, your mother is in good physical health, but has symptoms of deteriorated mental health due to her diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. At that point, it may be too late for her to intelligibly execute any legal documents, including her Last Will and Testament or Power of Attorney. You must sign the Will in front of two witnesses and be mentally competent and under no undue influence in order to legally execute your Will, or any of your estate planning documents.
- In a Will, you specify who'll receive your things when you die (otherwise, the State decides), and who will be responsible for your minor children (otherwise, a judge decides), and names someone (an executor) who'll handle your estate regarding the distribution of funds to your heirs or charities. Your Will only becomes effective upon your death, and in some cases, only after it has been approved through the probate process.
- I always suggest that the Executor has the original, or at least one copy of your will and other estate planning documents that name him or her as the Personal Representative, Agent, as well as copies of your other legal documents, such as a deeds, divorce decree, automobile titles, etc. It's always a good idea that your executor have a list of those you do business with (lawyers, bankers, tax advisers, utility companies, lawn care, pest control, etc.) - your executor, and heirs, will be glad you did.
Anyone preparing documents for estate planning and probate matters in Arizona should have an understanding of the diversity of legal issues involved, such as:
- Healthcare and end-of-life decisions
- Intestate succession and Wills
- Probate of Wills and estate administration
- Guardianships, conservatorships, and powers of attorney
Below are some of the most common estate planning document:
Last Will and Testament: Document where you state how you want your belongings and property to be distributed upon your death. You will need to name a person or persons to act as your Personal Representative (Executor) and they will be responsible for carrying out the wishes in your Will. Depending on the size of your assets within your estate at the time of your death, your estate may or may not have to be probated. Additional provisions for minor children, including the appointment of a guardian, conservator, and/or trustee for the minor child can be included.
Health Care Power of Attorney & Living Will: Document where you designate a person or persons to take of your medical needs and make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and are unable to make such decisions on your own, such as: the decision to take you off of life support and not prolong your life in the event that the doctor(s) have decided that there is no possibility for your recovery.
General Durable Power of Attorney: (Effective immediately or only upon disability): Name the individual(s) that will be responsible for financial decisions on your behalf.
Informal Probate: Procedure used to transfer decedent's estate and assets (filed with the Probate Registrar, without a Court hearing) as they are described in a Last Will and Testament or pursuant to intestate succession (bequeaths entities according to statute when a person dies without a Will) if the value of estate are over $50,000.00, or if probate is required to transfer property. There is a Court filing fee, certified copy of “Letters of Acceptance” fee, and publication costs vary.
Formal Probate: Procedure used to transfer decedent's estate and assets as they are described in a Last Will and Testament or pursuant to intestate succession (to family members and other entities according to statute when no Will in place) providing that the value of estate assets are over $50,000.00, or if probate is required in order to complete the transfer of property. There is a Court hearing for the appointment of Personal Representative. There is a Court filing fee, certified copy of Letters fee, and publication costs vary.
Guardianship of a Minor: Procedure where a person is appointed as a Guardian of a minor (under age 18). This person is responsible for the overall care and of the minor. The minor must not have any assets valuing more than $5,000.00. There is a hearing for appointment of the Guardian. There is a Court filing fee, certified copy of “Letters of Acceptance” fee, and publication costs vary. The Cochise County filing fee of $214.00.
Guardianship of an Adult Incapacitated Person: Process of having a person appointed as the Guardian of an incapacitated adult due to mental or physical incapacities and does not have assets that exceed $5,000.00. The Guardian is then responsible for the overall wellbeing of that adult. The Cochise County filing fee of $214.00.
Estate Planning Package: Includes: Last Will & Testament, Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney and General/Durable Power of Attorney. (Estate Planning Package = $400 for individual / $650 for a couple)
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