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Estate Planning is a broad category used to describe how a person legally plans for their affairs in case they are in a physically or mentally declined state or they are no longer leaving. The assets a person owns during their lifetime (and even beyond their lifetime) is called their estate. Generally, people refer to a person as having an estate only if they are wealthy. However, every person that owns property has an estate. Therefore, a person that undergoes planning for their property is planning for their estate. An Estate Plan is a legally enforceable plan that controls how property should be held, administered, and/or distributed. A good estate plan generally includes the following documents:
A common misconception about estate planning is that it is only important for the wealthy. As explained above, anyone who owns property has an estate. Also, anyone who would like to control how their property is held, administered, and/or distributed beyond their lifetime (or upon their inability to manage their own affairs and/or property) should have an estate plan. Arizona law will dictate what happens to a person’s property if they do not have an estate plan. Even worse, often times assets are subject to time consuming and expensive court proceedings (called probate) if there is no estate plan or an ineffective estate plan in place.