After a loved one passes, it can be an emotional time for the rest of their family members. Putting together an estate plan that includes your last will is an excellent way to ensure that your affairs are in order and that a significant amount of stress is lifted from your family’s shoulders.

Here are some reasons why you should consider preparing a will today.

Distribute Your Assets According to Your Wishes

Your last will is a document that lets you distribute your assets after you pass away. You can decide to split your assets evenly among your children, leave money to your grandchildren, leave money to friends and family, or make donations to your favorite charities.

Dying without having a last will prepared is known as dying intestate. Arizona has a set of “default” laws that will distribute your assets in a way the state believes is fair. However, this distribution may not reflect your individual wishes. By preparing a will, you get to decide how your estate is distributed.

When you prepare your last will, you will also need to name an executor, or personal representative, who is in charge of administering your estate. In addition to distributing your assets, your personal representative will be in charge of paying off bills and debts, including your credit cards.

Related article: Valid Will Requirements

Preparing a last will is not the only way to declare how your assets will be divided after you pass away – you can also prepare a revocable living trust. Like a will, a trust will allow you to distribute assets, but it also has one major advantage over a will. If you leave your assets to your family in your will, your family may have to go to probate court, whereas if you leave your assets in your trust, probate is avoided.

List Guardians for Minor Children

In Arizona, your last will is the only document where you list who will take care of your minor children after you pass. Having a plan in place for your children is especially important in a time of turmoil. If you have children, I strongly suggest that you name guardians, as well as backup guardians in your last will.

When choosing guardians, you should consider your children’s relationship with the guardians, how far away the guardians live, and the guardians’ ages and physical capabilities.

For example, Amy and Bob have two young children, Claire and Dennis. Amy’s sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Frank live nearby and often babysit Claire and Dennis, so they are listed as primary guardians. Bob’s brother, George, lives alone on the other side of the state, so he is listed as a backup guardian.

Straightforward Process That Meets Your Needs

Finally, preparing a will is a relatively straightforward process. This is very important to people who may think that preparing a will is difficult or time-consuming. While it is certainly possible to have a complicated estate plan, the vast majority of last wills are straightforward. They are written in plain English that is easy for everyone to understand, rather than in complicated legalese.

When you come to my office, my job is to understand your vision for your family and how they will be taken care of once you are no longer with them. I will work with you to create your estate plan as painlessly as possible. Once we are finished putting your will together, you will have a plan that you are comfortable with and that works for your family.

Often, my clients report feeling a weight lift from their shoulders after finalizing their last will, because they know their family will be taken care of in the future.
This article is for informational purposes only. It does not provide legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. In order to schedule an appointment to discuss your last will or other estate planning documents, please contact me today.