Wills trusts and estates covered

Prince did not leave a will and many, many relatives showed up to stake a claim.

Not having a will can create some difficult situations for your loved ones and some of them are not expected, according to Arizona Central in “Here’s why you don’t want to die without leaving a will“. For example, in Arizona, an estate creditor can step in and become your personal representative after death if you haven’t designated someone to administer your estate and your family members don’t step up to be involved.

Are you still not convinced? Without a will, you have no say in who inherits your money and possessions, instead they will be distributed according to the laws of your state.

Here are some tips to help get your estate plan started:

  • Work with an estate planning attorney. Using an attorney provides accountability, ensures that your wishes are reflected in the estate plan and set forth in compliance with the applicable law to ensure that your will is deemed valid by the court. All too often, online documents are found to be deficient and declared invalid, leaving the estate to be distributed according to state intestacy laws rather than the wishes of the deceased.
  • Name an executor. Your will should include the name of an executor who will be responsible for handling your financial affairs after you die. She will manage your assets, identify what bills need to be paid, file state and federal tax returns and keep records of anything done on behalf of your estate.
  • Keep your will in a safe location. Make sure your executor has a copy and knows where the original document is. Tell your family where it is as well.
  • Don’t forget a residuary clause. If you forget to include any assets, a residuary clause will name someone who will receive them.
  • Don’t forget other important documents. That means a power of attorney and health care proxy. The health care proxy spells out what kind of medical treatment you would want if you are unable to communicate your wishes yourself. The Power of attorney gives a person you name the authority to act on your behalf for financial matters.
  • What if my family fights a lot? Your best bet will be to name a private fiduciary to act as your personal representative. That way, no one can be accused of playing favorites, and a family history of sibling rivalry won’t undermine your wishes.

An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your particular circumstances.

Reference: Arizona Central (June 21, 2019) “Here’s why you don’t want to die without leaving a will

For more information on asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.