Moore Law Firm

Moore Law Firm

9949 W. Bell Road
Suite 201
Sun City, AZ 85351
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Sun City Estate Planning Blog

Wills: the competency determination

On their face, wills are relatively simple. However, their simplicity should not cloud the fact that they can have a significant impact on how an estate is distributed. This means that any minor mistake in this legal document can have tremendous consequences, including diverting assets to those whom a testator does not want to obtain them.

Because of the magnitude of wills, they are sometimes contested. This usually occurs when an individual feels slighted when he or she is left out of a will. One way these individuals try to invalidate a will is by claiming that the individual who created the will was incompetent when the document was created. However, determining whether an individual was competent at the time a will was signed can be difficult, especially since this issue usually arises after the testator passes away and, therefore, is unable to be subjected to evaluation.

Art and collectibles as part of an estate plan

When it comes to creating a holistic estate plan, one challenge that Arizonans face is accurately identifying and valuating their assets. One reason this issue arises is that, over the course of a lifetime, an individual may simply forget about some of the assets that he or she has accumulated. With regard to valuation, certain items can be difficult to put a price on, which may make it difficult to determine how to distribute it upon one's death, as well as how heirs should handle it once received.

This circumstance is especially true when it comes to art and collectibles. Executors and heirs can disagree over the fair market value of a piece of art or a collectible, such as a rare coin or jewelry, leading to disputes that could turn litigious. This, in turn, can delay the distribution of an estate and be quite costly.

Estate executor carries many responsibilities

There are many aspects to estate planning, all of which need to be carefully considered. Amongst those is choosing estate executors and trust administrators. These individuals are charged with managing either an individual trust or the estate as a whole, and they carry a fiduciary duty, meaning that their decisions must be in the best interests of the estate and/or trust in question. Therefore, those selected to serve in these roles need to be carefully selected. Also, those who are chosen and those who choose to serve in these capacities need to understand what they are getting themselves into.

There are many tasks an estate executor must take on. First of all, he or she must inventory the estate to account for all assets and debts. This is not as easy as it sounds. Some assets, for example, may be difficult to valuate, meaning that they will need to be subjected to appraisal. Once an inventory is complete, the executor must pay off all estate debts as well as maintain ongoing expenses, such as a house mortgage and utilities. Once debts are paid off, then assets can be distributed in accordance with the estate plan.

How often should people update their wills?

Millions of Americans lose their lives each year. This heartbreaking time for family members is sometimes made even more difficult when people learn the deceased did not leave behind a will. In some cases, the person had a will, but he or she made it years ago to the point it is not applicable to today's circumstances. The best rule of thumb to follow is to review your will at least once a year to see if there is anything you would like to alter. 

In the event there is something about your will you want to change, make sure you change it in the presence of an attorney. This is the only way to ensure the court will follow your wishes upon your death. Aside from looking at your will once a year, you should also make necessary changes as needed when the following circumstances occur.

Reliable Sun City firm with more than 25 years of experience

On its face, much of estate planning seems pretty self-explanatory and simple. Arizonans can even conduct a quick Internet search or visit their local book store and find a number of do-it-yourself and self-help resources that promise to help make estate planning easy. Although these resources may be helpful in educating you as to the basics of estate planning, in order to make a customized plan that is right for you it is wise to consult with an attorney who has years of experience handling estate planning issues. By doing so, you can decrease the risk of legal issues that could jeopardize the validity of your estate plan which could, in turn, threaten the financial well-being of your estate as well as your heirs and beneficiaries.

For more than 25 years, the Moore Law Firm has been committed to bringing dedicated and reliable representation to our clients. With an eye on reaching desired results, we carefully consult with our clients to identify their goals and how best to reach them. Oftentimes this includes a holistic approach to estate planning, which may mean the creation of a will as well as trusts that ensure that one's estate is distributed in accordance with his or her wishes.

What is a living trust?

One of the great things about estate planning is that it is a customizable process. Depending on your needs and the way in which you want your assets distributed upon your death, you can tailor your estate plan accordingly. While this is a relief to many, it can also seem overwhelming to others as they may quickly become confused about the options available to them, or they may simply become too complacent to modify an estate plan to mirror their current situation. This can be problematic, which is why we strive to educate our readers about the many estate planning vehicles that they may utilize to further their and their estate's best interests.

One estate planning tool that is utilized by many Arizonans is the living trust. Generally speaking, a grantor opens a trust and places assets into it. That trust is then administered by a trustee who manages the assets for the benefit of a named individual, the beneficiary. A living trust is a trust that is created during the lifetime of the grantor. One benefit to this type of trust is that it can be revocable, meaning that if at any time the grantor becomes unhappy with the trust or finds it unnecessary, then he or she can simply cancel the trust altogether.

Wills and the importance of witnesses

There are many legal tools available to Arizonans who are wanting to engage in estate planning. While many of these tools seem relatively easy to create, and there are even a number of self-help and do-it-yourself resources, these documents can actually raise significant legal issues when improperly handled. This is why it is always advisable to have an experienced legal professional assist in the drafting of these documents. Failing to do so could result in a lot of headache, heartache, time and money.

This is especially true when it comes to wills. Although most wills are found to be legally enforceable, sometimes arguments arise with regard to whether the individual who created the will was of sound mind to do so at the time of signing the document, as well as whether he or she was coerced into signing the document. One way to prevent this is to have witnesses who can testify, if need be, as to the testator's state of mind and the circumstances surrounding the signing of the document.

How to organize digital assets in estate planning

When creating a will, people know to include information about how to divide property and money. However, things are not so cut-and-dry when it comes to digital property. Social media accounts and other items that exist online are still relatively new to legal professionals, but it is important to divide these assets so the right people maintain them after your death. 

Information related to social media accounts can go into your various estate planning documents. An attorney can walk you through all the steps so that whatever you want done to these assets actually happens. 

Two years after his death, Prince's estate still not distributed

Although legal professionals like us tend to harp on the importance of estate planning, some individuals fail to take notice until something bad happens to them or their loved ones. Stories about celebrities can be illustrative, too, as is the case of former pop singer Prince. Even though the artist died two years ago, his estate has yet to be distributed to heirs.

The main reason is that Prince died without a will. This has made it difficult for those administering his estate to determine how to distribute the estimated $100 to $300 million in assets. One reason for the delay is merely trying to value the estate. Prince had numerous unreleased works, including a vault that contained recorded informal studio sessions. Should these works be released? If so, when? Should they all be released at the same time? If release is withheld until a later date, how does one place a value on that work considering that markets change, thereby changing the value? These are just a few of the questions that those involved with the estate are struggling with.

Arizona firm helping families establish trusts

Estate planning is important for a variety of reasons. Amongst those reasons are the protection of an estate's assets. Although a will may be able to help delineate how property is to be distributed upon one's death, the document itself, if improperly drafted can be contested. Also, those who pass away with a will may still have to go through probate to a certain extent, which can be time-consuming and costly. The best way to avoid these issues is to secure an estate's assets in various trusts.

When created in a legally competent and thorough way, these vehicles can serve many purposes. First, they can help an estate avoid probate, thereby saving heirs time and money. Second, trusts can contain terms with regard to how the assets contained within it are to be distributed. This allows an individual to retain control over the estate's assets, to a certain extent, even after he or she is gone. Lastly, trusts can provide peace of mind, in that they can help an individual feel like his or her assets are secure, beneficiaries are protected and the estate plan is strong.

Client Testimonials

I got the family trust updated.
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I needed to review my Will, recommended by my son.
Mr. Farrer’s expertise helped me realize that a Trust would better serve my needs.
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Our legal documents were outdated due to time and circumstances.
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Moore Law Firm
9949 W. Bell Road
Suite 201
Sun City, AZ 85351

Phone: 623-207-9153
Phone: 623-207-9153
Fax: 623-977-7237
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