Moore Law Firm

Moore Law Firm

9949 W. Bell Road
Suite 201
Sun City, AZ 85351
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623-207-9153

Sun City Estate Planning Blog

Tips for choosing a power of attorney

Arizona law allows you to designate someone to make health care and financial decisions on your behalf by executing a power of attorney. The person you choose makes important choices for you under certain circumstances, such as if you are in a vegetative state after a severe car accident or develop a mentally-incapacitating condition.

While it is important for you to create this document as soon as possible, you should not rush your decision. You must make sure you choose the right individual for the role. 

Competent legal help available for estate plan modification

After completing an estate plan, many Arizonans feel a tremendous sense of relief. They certainly should, as taking this huge step is the best way to not only ensure that loved one's are adequately cared for in the event of one's death, but also that one's estate is properly protected for in the long-term. After all, for many, their estate is their legacy.

Yet, regardless of how thorough you are when creating your initial plan, there are a number of life changes that can render your once ironclad estate plan deficient. We discussed one example relatively recently on the blog, that being a second marriage. In order to adequately protect children from a previous marriage, wills and trusts may need to be modified or rewritten. Otherwise, a new spouse may inherit everything and then choose to "disinherit" those children from a previous marriage. Other life changes that may warrant modification of an estate plan are divorces, births of new children or grandchildren, deaths, and changed relational dynamics.

Estate planning and the qualified personal residence trust

If you're a reader of this blog, then you likely know that there are many estate planning options available to you. You can utilize a will, a trust, a power of attorney, a health care directive, or some combination of these tools. What is important is that you pursue whatever planning strategy suits your needs, as well as the needs of your estate and your loved ones. This isn't always easy to determine, though.

Most Arizonans do know that they want to leave their home to a loved one or jointly to multiple loved ones. While this may be accomplished through a trust or a will, there is a particular type of trust that may be attractive to those who find themselves in this position. The qualified personal residence trust allows a homeowner to transfer title of a residence to another individual, or a trust, while retaining the ability to reside in the home. The biggest benefit of this type of trust is that transfer taxes can be reduced because they will be based on the value of the home at the time that the home is transferred to the other individual or the trust, rather than the likely increased value of the home when the homeowner passes away.

Arizona's holographic will law

We recently wrote about the trouble Aretha Franklin's estate is having due to the recent discovery of a number of handwritten wills. These documents can be problematic for a number of reasons. Oftentimes it's unclear who is being named as a beneficiary or heir. Also, the terms of trusts are vague or ambiguous. Other times there are contradictory terms. Each of these issues can present problems when the will is supposed to go into effect. Under such circumstances, untangling the testator's intentions can be a nightmare. In other cases the will is deemed legally invalid.

Arizona does recognize the legal validity of handwritten wills, known as holographic wills, but only if it can be shown that the material terms of the document and the testator's signature are written in his or her handwriting. That sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. Far too often in these circumstances experts are required to testify as to the testator's handwriting. Also, since these holographic wills don't require witnesses, they are often more susceptible to attacks regarding coercion and undue influence.

Why should I consider a special needs trust?

Competent estate planning is one of the best ways to ensure that you can provide for your loved one's after your death. This may mean setting up something basic like a will and revocable trust, or it may require more extensive documentation to ensure that all assets, identified heirs and beneficiaries, and situations are accounted for. This can be a challenging task to address, which is why it is advisable that you seek out legal assistance to develop your plan.

One matter an attorney can help address is the future care of a child with special needs. Arizonans who have special needs children often worry about how those children will get by without their financial and emotional support. It's a difficult issue to address, but through the utilization of a special needs trust you better maximize the resources that your children will have at their disposal.

Estate planning considerations as you enter a second marriage

There are numerous situations that can arise in life that may warrant you taking a second look at your estate plan, and entering into a second marriage presents one such circumstance. Anytime your family changes, whether because of divorce, a new child or what have you, you may have cause to update or modify your estate plan. It is particularly important going into a second marriage.

Just what types of estate planning steps might you want to take as you prepare to enter into a second or subsequent marriage?

Arizona's requirements for a legally valid will

Many Arizonans think of wills as simple documents they can utilize to dictate how their assets will be distributed upon their death. While this is true in a broad context, these estate planning vehicles can be quite detailed, and they are automatically legally valid. Instead, estate planners need to be careful to ensure that their wills are abiding by applicable laws unless they want to risk their assets falling into the wrong hands.

So, what are the requirements in Arizona for a legally valid will? To start, the individual who is creating the will or having the will created for him or her must be at least 18 years old. Next, that individual must be of sound mind. This means that the state of one's mental health must be taken into consideration before pursuing a will. If an individual is deemed incompetent to create a will, then additional steps may need to be taken to ensure that a holistic estate plan is in place and legally valid.

Aretha Franklin's handwritten wills may present problems

If Sun City residents have heard of the estate-planning debacle surrounding the estate of famed singer Aretha Franklin, then you know just how dangerous it can be to forego estate planning altogether. Yet, even mediocre estate planning can prove problematic. It can threaten to tie an estate up in probate for a long time, draining the estate of resources, wasting loved ones' time, and causing familial strife.

Again, it appears that Aretha Franklin's estate serves as a reminder of why half-hearted estate planning is dangerous. Recent reports have indicated that Franklin had multiple handwritten wills stashed in her home. Two of the wills date to 2010, and one dates to 2014. Of Franklin's four sons, two plan to contest the legal validity of the documents, which means they likely contain terms that are counter to their interests. The matter is expected to be addressed through contentious court hearings.

Sun City firm helping Arizonans effectively utilize trusts

One of the greatest benefits of estate planning is the fact that it is a custom-tailored process that can be modified to suit your needs. Although many find great relief in the number of options available to them, others find the matter completely overwhelming. They don't know where to start when it comes to estate planning, and their fear of making a mistake paralyzes them into inaction. While the stress and fear of what may appear to be an enormous undertaking is understandable, the truth of the matter is that estate planning doesn't have to be difficult.

With the guidance of an experienced attorney, Arizonans can identify the estate planning vehicles they want to utilize to help them achieve their asset distribution goals. For example, if you want to leave some money to a nephew but only under certain circumstances, such as his graduation from college, then an attorney can help you create a trust that imposes that condition on the release to trust funds. If, as we discussed previously on the blog, you want to make sure that your children from a previous marriage receive their fair share of your assets, then you might want to utilize another type of trust with different provisions.

Retitling assets to fit your estate planning needs

Figuring out how to leave assets to loved ones can be more challenging than expected. You might start out wanting to evenly divide your estate, then find yourself considering the type of relationship you have with each identified beneficiary and heir. This can be a difficult process to work through, but estate planning carries the flexibility needed to ensure that one's true wishes can be achieved.

However, to bring an estate plan vision into fruition an individual needs to ensure that the assets within that plan are titled accordingly. What we mean by that is that certain assets may not be subject to the distribution process identified by your will, which might be counter to your wishes. For example, a life insurance policy will likely name a sole beneficiary. Therefore, even if your will says that all assets are to be equally distributed amongst three children, only the named beneficiary will receive the proceeds from a life insurance policy. This same issue can be seen with retirement accounts, too.

Client Testimonials

I got the family trust updated.
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Our legal documents were outdated due to time and circumstances.
The staff at Moore Law Firm worked with us to develop a trust and other legal documents which meet our current as well as our future needs.
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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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