One of the biggest misconceptions people have about estate planning is that it is only for the wealthy. However, even people with only a few assets should create a will to settle their estates upon their death. Creating a will is not for your benefit, but rather for the benefit of your loved ones.
Even if you only have basic assets, such as a car or checking account with a small amount of money, someone will still have to distribute these assets when you pass away. If you do not have a will in place, that person will have to go to probate court when you die and prove their relationship with you to be named an executor. A will may not help you avoid the probate process, but it can provide instructions to transfer property not covered by other means, such as trusts. If you do not have a will, state law will likely decide what to do with your money through intestate succession. This process, unfortunately, does not ensure that your property will end up in the right hands, which is why you should take action.
As you begin the estate planning process in Arizona, it is important to remember that your estate plan should allow for changes as you go through the different stages of your life. For example, when someone gets married and brings their individual property into the marriage, there may be conflict between the person's spouse and their bloodline family regarding who gets the property upon their death. Families of people who have multiple marriages can also easily end up fighting for assets in probate court. In such cases, having a will can be extremely beneficial and help avoid unnecessary conflict.
Once you have completed your will, you should continue to revisit it and other estate planning documents periodically, even if you don't think your wishes have changed. By keeping your will updated, you can make sure your beneficiaries are correct and that your documents are still valid under current law.
Source: CNBC, "Think you're not rich enough to need a will? Think again," Deborah Nason, Oct. 24, 2017