Last Will and Testament

Last Will and Testament

 

Many people know that they should have a Will, but few actually know what a Will is, what it does, or how to create one. The attorneys at Giordano Spanier & Heckele, PLLC can help you legally prepare and execute your Last Will and Testament so you and your family can have some peace of mind in the event the unexpected happens.

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document, ultimately read by the Court, instructing a decedent’s Personal Representative (sometimes called an executor or executrix) to close out his estate.  The purpose of a decedent’s Last Will and Testament, in part, is to allow for a hassle-free disposition of his assets, to avoid disputes among family members.

What a Will Does

A Will does many things, including the following:

  • Names a Personal Representative.
  • Provides for funeral arrangements, including where the decedent will be buried, or perhaps cremated.
  • Decides how debts and taxes will be paid.
  • Names guardians for the decedent’s children and property they inherit.
  • Provides for pets.
  • Serves as a back up to a Living Trust.

You should not use a Will to: (i) Put conditions on your gifts (e.g., I give my house to Brenda if she finishes college); (ii) leave instructions for final arrangements; (iii) leave property for your pet; or (iv) make arrangements for money or property that will be left another way (e.g., property in a trust or property for which you’ve named a pay-on-death beneficiary).

Legal Requirements

The legal requirements to legally create a Last Will and Testament in Arizona are few, and contained in Article 14 of Arizona’s Revised Statutes, A.R.S. §-14-2601 et seq. – Rules of Construction.  Basically, to create a Will in Arizona (i) the testator (i.e., decedent) must have “Capacity” (be of sound mind), (ii) the document must name at least one beneficiary for  some of the decedent’s property, (iii) he must sign the document (iv) before two (2) witnesses.

No state requires your will to be notarized, although you may use a notarized self-proving affidavit that will make your will easier to get through probate after your death.

A few states allow you to make a handwritten “holographic” wills, that don’t have to be signed by witnessed.  However, handwritten wills should only be used when you do not have time to make a formal will because they are much more susceptible to challenge after your death.

How to Write a Will

Drafting a good, enforceable Will is an art.  In most instances it is best left to an attorney to draft your Will.  However, there are many online templates and forms available for a testator’s use. There are no magic words that must be used to create a will.  The best thing to do is use clear, unambiguous language to accurately describe your wishes.  It should also explain your options and help you decide what to include in your will. For example, do you wish to name more than one Personal Representative; perhaps even have them work together?  Do you want to name guardians for your children in the Will; or perhaps create a Trust instructing a trustee not to distribute any estate property until a certain age?

There are many questions a Will must answer in order to make it enforceable and unambiguous.  You may need professional help in unique circumstances.  For example, you may: (i) wish to disinherit your spouse or child; (ii) be worried that someone may challenge your Will; (iii) want to provide money and care for pets after your death; (iv) want to control what happens to your property long after your death; (v) be worried about estate (death) taxes.

 

If you need help preparing your Last Will and Testament, please call the attorneys at Giordano Spanier & Heckele, PLLC at (520) 495-0869 or info@reallawtucson.com. Mention this article for a FREE CONSULTATION on your estate planning needs.