Some people spend a lifetime saving and obtaining assets. When you boil it down, estate planning is about retaining control over your assets even after you pass away. For many Arizona residents, this means figuring out a way to best provide those assets to loved ones so that they can enjoy those assets for a long time to come. The most thought of, and perhaps the simplest, estate planning tool is the will. In short, a will lays out to whom assets will be left upon death. These documents can be as intricate as needed, but most of the time they are short and straightforward so as to avoid confusion and challenge later down the road.
Many Arizonans think of estate planning as a way to ensure that their loved ones will receive a fair share of estate assets upon their passing. While this is true in many instances, the beauty of estate planning is that it can be custom-tailored to fit one's unique desires. Therefore, if an individual wishes to stray away from a typical estate plan, then he or she can do so.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our economy is constantly changing. While new markets emerge and old ones fade, even the way we view money is changing. Cryptocurrencies, for example, seem to be gaining some traction amongst the public. These digital currencies are not backed by banks, which means their value can rise and fall based on the value assigned to it by those in the market. This can create big swings in cryptocurrency values that could leave an individual sitting on thousands upon thousands of dollars' worth of virtual money.
A will can be a great estate planning tool that seeks to distribute assets after one's death in accordance with his or her wishes. However, the effectiveness of this document is contingent upon its validity. Last week we discussed some of the ways a will can be contested and, ultimately, found to be invalid. The invalidation of a will can have a tremendous effect on an estate, which means that those engaging in estate planning need to make sure that their legal documents are drafted carefully with an eye for every applicable detail.
Mustering the courage to confront one's own mortality and engage in estate planning is no small thing. However, merely because some words are put on paper delineating how assets are to be divided upon an individual's death does not mean that its provisions will hold up in a court of law. Although most of us hope that these matters can be resolved without heated disputes, the truth is that this area of the law can see some of the nastiest litigation. To avoid it, Arizonans need to do everything in their power to ensure that their estate plan is as legally sound as possible.
It is sometimes assumed that parents who are going through the estate planning process will divide their property equally amongst their children. However, this is not always the case, particularly when stepchildren are involved. A 2015 study circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that parents with stepchildren may be less likely to distribute property equally amongst all the than parents who do not have stepchildren.