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Last Will and Testament (Will)

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A Last Will and Testament is a document that designates and Executor (or Personal Representative). This is the person who has the authority beyond a person’s lifetime to collect estate property, pay final expenses, file final tax returns, and distribute assets according to the terms of the will. It is important to note that a Last Will and Testament only controls estate property which is generally exlusive to assets that do not have a co-owner or a named beneficiary. In other words, a named co-owner an a bank account or a named beneficiary on property generally has superior rights to the assets vs. someone named in a will. A huge misconception is that a will helps a person avoid probate which is generally not the case. Nonetheless, the Last Will and Testament is an important legal document for the following reasons:

  1. A Will is generally used to designate an alternate guardian for a person who has minor children.
  2. A Will generally provides instructions for distributing a person’s personal effects (jewelry, artwork, electronics, furniture, etc.).
  3. A Will designates an executor to pay final expenses, file final tax returns, and distribute assets.
  4. A good Will generally waives any bond requirement for a Personal Representative.

If you have minor children, you can appoint a guardian over such children so that this important decision isn’t left up to the courts to decide. Although it is hard to think about someone other than yourself or your spouse raising your children, most people would prefer to appoint a guardian themselves rather than risk letting the courts appoint someone on their behalf.

Working with an estate planning attorney will allow you to prepare a clear and unambiguous Will to ensure that your final wishes will be honored. Having a Will in place certifies that your loved ones will not face months of uncertainty, and also that your estate will not be eaten away by costly legal fees and the delay of the court processes.

If you die without a Last Will and Testament, many important decisions are determined by the State of Arizona. This process not only takes longer, but also costs more money than if you would have prepared an Estate Plan. Proper estate planning through the use of a Last Will and Testament not only allows you to be in charge of your estate after your passing, but it also spares your loved ones the headache, frustration, and expense of managing your affairs. If you are ready to prepare a Last Will and Testament for your peace of mind, contact the attorneys at Dana Law Group today.