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What Are the Best Practices for Drafting a Will in Glendale, AZ?

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The Importance of Creating a Well-Crafted Will

A well-crafted will can go a long way towards giving you peace of mind that your children, assets, and even pets are well cared for after you are gone. Aside from reassurance in the present, a secure last will and testament makes it possible for a smooth execution of your wishes in your absence, making it easier for all concerned. Without one, the distribution of your estate will be left up to arbitrary, fixed statutes decided by the state, with no regard to what you would have wanted.

What are the Steps to Drafting a Will?

If your estate is of considerable value, or even if you own a moderate estate but wish to ensure its proper distribution and care after your passing, it is advisable to work with a skilled Mesa, Arizona wills lawyer to draft a comprehensive will. The basic steps to follow are these:

  1. Decide which type of will works best for you. There are several types of wills available in Arizona. A lawyer can help you understand and choose between a simple will, a living will, a testamentary trust will, and even an electronic will, based on your needs.
  2. Choose an executor of your will. In all types of wills, you will need an executor, or someone charged with carrying out your wishes. It is best to choose someone you trust.
  3. List the beneficiaries of your will. This can include your spouse and children as well as charities, universities, or other institutions you care about.
  4. Determine all your assets. You will need to list out everything you own to ensure your will is complete. This includes bank accounts, real estate, stocks, investments, intellectual property, and anything else.
  5. Decide on how you will divide your assets among the beneficiaries. You can decide exactly who and when you choose for the individual to receive it.
  6. Choose guardians for minor children and pets. A will allows you to care for “living treasures” as well as physical assets.
  7. With the assistance of a qualified attorney, write your will. The attorney can edit a will you have drafted, or in most cases, the attorney will take down your information and write the will following local law. You will then review and finalize the will before it is signed.
  8. Choose two witnesses. Following Arizona Revised Statute § 14-2505, witnesses must not be named as a beneficiary of your will or be related by blood, marriage, or adoption to someone who is.
  9. Sign your will in the presence of the two witnesses. You are not required to sign your will before a notary public, but there is an added benefit if you do. A notary’s seal and signature on your will make it “self-proving.” This means when it comes to the probate court, the witnesses do not have to be physically present to attest to the will’s validity.
  10. Store your will in a safe place. Your will is a valuable document. Put it in a secure location and inform your assigned executor and any other trusted persons of where to find it.

What are the Consequences of a Badly Written Will?

If a will lacks clarity, it can lead to various complications during the estate administration process. Some common issues that may arise from a poorly drafted will include:

  • Ambiguities. As legal wording is important, imprecise clauses can lead to confusion among beneficiaries and other parties.
  • Disputes. If a will’s terms are unclear, heirs and beneficiaries may disagree on the division of assets. This could lead to legal challenges and family conflicts.
  • Misunderstandings. Outside of disputes, a will could be executed in a way that is contrary to the will writer’s intentions because it did not accurately reflect what he or she wanted.
  • Invalidation. If a will does not meet the jurisdiction’s legal requirements, it may be found invalid by the probate court. This will lead to the application of state law to distribute assets without regard to anything that was written in the will.
  • Tax Problems. A will can be crafted with the help of an estate planning lawyer to assist in providing the best tax advantages available. If a will is not done professionally, it may result in unintended tax consequences, such as a higher tax burden for the beneficiaries.
  • Delays. Every will must be validated by the probate court. When the language is unclear, beneficiaries will have to wait for the court system to interpret the confusing document.
  • Wastage. Disputes and legal challenges regarding the will’s wording may lead to increased legal fees. This legal action may deplete the estate’s assets, so when the probate process is completed, there will be less value to give to the beneficiaries.

Can I Change My Will After it is Finalized?

Not only can you change your will, but you need to regularly update it to reflect your current wishes. Births, deaths, marriage, and divorce can all change things. If it is inaccurate, your will could be invalidated in probate as it no longer represents your current relationships.

How Can I Make Modifications to a Completed Will?

There is a relatively simple way to update small changes, such as the names of beneficiaries or guardians you wish to assign, called a “codicil.” A codicil is an addendum that can be made to an existing will at any time. It can add to, subtract from, change, or update any part of a will. If major changes are needed, creating an entirely new will that cancels all older versions is better.

Craft Your Will with Certainty at The Turner Law Firm PLLC

It’s your life, and it’s your legacy. When it comes to crafting your last testament, don’t leave things to chance. Turner Law Firm PLLC can guide you in crafting your will so you have certainty and peace of mind it will provide for those you care about. If you are considering writing your will, contact us at (480) 618-1221 to review the best choice for you.

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