Wills Attorney : The Guide to Wills in Arizona
A last will and testament, also called a will, is a document that is used to appoint an executor to carry out an individual’s wishes according to instructions which are also included in a will. A will only controls assets that were owned by a person individually and that do not have a beneficiary designation. In other words, if there is a named beneficiary on an asset, or an asset is owned by an individual’s trust, then the provisions of a will won’t dictate how that asset should be distributed. To be properly guided when creating this important legal document, hire a wills attorney you can trust.
In Arizona, if a will distributes more than $75,000 of non-real estate, or more than $100,000 of real estate, then the court will require the will to go through the probate process. Generally, there are two major types of wills, depending on whether a trust is also created. When a trust is created to work alongside a will, the will is generally designed to be a pour-over will. If a person only creates a will, and does not also create a trust, then the document is generally designed to be a simple will. Despite the confusing terminology, a simple will is not necessarily less complex than a pour-over will. Go through the process of creating a will with help from an experienced wills attorney.
Related Topics on Wills
In Arizona, a simple will is arguably a decent solution for individuals who have less than $100,000 worth of real estate or less than $75,000 of non-real estate. However, even when assets are under those thresholds, there are things to be aware of that may be a good reason for creating a trust, in addition to a will (in which case the will that is created would be a pour-over will and not a simple will). For example, what if assets are under the given threshold, but the person is starting a career and has a high annual income? Even though a simple will could be a decent short-term solution, maybe it makes sense to have your wills attorney also create a trust for a more robust, long-term solution. Also, if a person has minor children, a trust is generally a better option so that assets can be controlled by a third-party trustee until the child reaches a certain age.
Some people create a will and instead rely on beneficiary designations, rather than resorting to a trust, but beneficiary designations are paid immediately on a person’s death. So if the designations are payable to a minor child, a court would have to appoint someone to conserve the assets until the child reaches age 18. In addition to the complexities of appointing someone under the court system, age 18 may not be an appropriate age to distribute a large sum of money to a child or loved one.
Pour Over Wills
A pour-over will is a document that is designed to appoint a personal representative (or executor) to distribute assets that are left outside of a trust, into a trust. The function of the document is where it gets its name: a pour-over will pours assets into a trust. The reason a pour-over will is important is because it is very practical to transfer large, valuable assets into a trust during a person’s lifetime, but it is very impractical to distribute every single asset into a trust. Also, even if it was a person’s intent to distribute everything into their trust, there is always the possibility that that person later acquires additional assets and they either forget or intentionally leave the asset outside their trust. Since a trust only controls that which it owns, a pour-over will is an important tool to make sure that assets that are left outside the trust (and thus under control of the will) are transferred to the trust (where the distribution instructions are listed for the trustee to carry out).
In the area of wills, there are situations where a simple will is the best option and other situations where a pour-over will is the best option. Ultimately, it is a good idea to consult with an estate planning lawyer or a wills attorney to explore discuss options and discuss pros and cons of each option. At Dana Law Group, we offer a free consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney at any of our eight convenient Arizona office locations in Mesa, Scottsdale, Chandler, Sedona, Payson, Tucson, Phoenix and Sun City.