If you’re thinking about ways to secure your future, congratulations! The truth is that not enough people do. After all, nobody really wants to think about a day when they might no longer be around or be able to make important decisions, but alas none of us are immortal. Fortunately, you can take some of the uncertainty away with the right legal planning. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you navigate the often confusing world of estate planning, and we’re going to start by explaining two very important types of documents: a living trust and a will. Understanding what each one entails and how they work under Arizona law will help you to make the right decisions for your future and for your loved ones.
How a Living Trust Works
There’s a common misconception that a living trust is essentially the same thing as a will. But while both can serve integral roles in estate planning, the two are different documents with unique purposes. We’ll go over wills in Arizona in just a moment, but first we’ll discuss how a living trust may be a good option for you. If you own property and / or a large amount of assets, a living trust is a more direct way of handling your estate’s future while you are still alive. This document keeps your property out of probate (the often lengthy legal proceedings that determine validity of an inheritance) once you pass on by assigning your assets now to a trustee. You still own everything and manage it while you are living, and once you pass on the trustee must still follow your wishes. Another one of the benefits here is that, because it is essential active while you are still alive, a living trust can be altered as you see fit during your lifetime. Under Arizona law, this is called a “revocable living trust”. Last but not least, a living trust allows you to be more detailed with your inheritance allocation, dividing it up exactly how you see fit by item, by individual person, etc.
How a Will Works
In contrast to a living trust, a will only becomes active once you pass on. It can nevertheless be a good choice for people with smaller estates who also don’t want to spend the money and time it can take to get a living trust set up. Wills are essentially just the simplest form of estate planning, and it is fairly easy to leave large portions of your assets to a single person, which is good news for those with fewer heirs. It is worth noting that while will laws in Arizona are generally the same as most other states, one notable difference here is handwritten wills are permitted (great for people who do not have access to a computer or who simply prefer this option). Now, the main downside to a standard will is that your assets will most likely go into probate before they can be properly distributed. While some don’t mind the wait or the legal anxiety this can bring, it just is not the best course of actions for those who want a smoother, faster process. We’re not saying that wills are the wrong choice— there are just many factors to consider here.
Taking the Next Step
Unsure over whether a will or a living trust is right for you? No worries— by enlisting the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can discuss everything you would like to happen with your assets in the future and work with them towards the best solution. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that if you do not have a will or living trust set up, the state of Arizona automatically invokes what are known as “inestacy” laws. In a nutshell, this just means that your assets will go to your closest living relatives. So, if you want to take charge of what exactly is done with your property and belongings, it’s time to do some real estate planning. When you’re ready, give our offices a call to get started on the inheritance and planning documents that will best suit both your present and your future needs.