Do I Need a Will in Arizona if I Have No Assets?

It’s a common question whether a Will is necessary for the state of Arizona if you have no assets. This thinking is why many opt to forgo a Will without realizing that they do, indeed, have assets to protect.

Even if it’s just a car and the money in your bank account, having a Will in place to dictate how to distribute is vital to avoid the state deciding who gets what by default. If you have no heirs, it’s even more critical to set up a Will so that the state of Arizona does not end up keeping your property.

Reasons Why You Need a Will

If you’re still not convinced that you should have a Will, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I married? Do I want my spouse to get everything? Do I want certain things to go to another friend or family member?
  • Am I in a committed relationship but not married? Do I want my partner to be one of my beneficiaries?
  • Do I have any minor children? Do I want the state’s probate court to decide who their guardian will be?
  • Do I have any pets? Do I want Fido the poodle or Spike the bearded dragon to have an undecided fate in my absence?
  • Do I have any sentimental items or collections that I would want to go to a specific person?
  • Do I want to make a donation to charity from my assets?
  • Do I own any physical property, such as real estate, a vehicle, etc.?
  • Do I want to make it easier for my loved ones to settle my affairs after I’m gone?

Did you answer yes to some of those? We bet you did, and that’s a great reason to write your Will today. If you die without a Will, that’s called “intestate” and it can be a much longer and expensive process for your loved ones to handle.

Do I Need a Will in Arizona if I Have No Assets?Dying Intestate in Arizona

When you die intestate, without a Will, Arizona has succession laws that will distribute any assets you have that are subject to these rules to your nearest relative. Typically, assets that are in your name only or would have generally passed through a Will would be affected.

Several valuables would not go through this process, including:

  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Assets that are held by a transfer-on-death account
  • Property controlled by a Living Trust
  • Retirement accounts like IRAs that have beneficiaries assigned
  • Jointly-owned bank accounts or payable-on-death accounts
  • Real estate and vehicles with transfer-on-death registration or beneficiaries
  • Joint-tenancy property

How is an Intestate Estate Distributed in Arizona?

Do I Need a Will in Arizona if I Have No Assets?Assuming that your spouse gets everything if you die without a will is risky. In Arizona, how much your husband or wife receives will depend on whether the property is owned separately (acquired before marriage), or as a community (acquired during your marriage). Further, there are still exceptions that can complicate this process: giving of gifts and inheritance before you pass. These assets are treated as separate property despite having been acquired while married.

Another consideration is if you have any descendants or not, whether by your spouse or another relationship. If you do not, or the children you have are from your marriage, your spouse automatically receives your half of any community property owned at the time of your death. It gets more complicated if you have surviving children from another relationship because intestate succession will award a portion of your estate to them as well. This may not happen if the community property in question has a right of survivorship with it. So, it is not safe to assume that community property will simply go to your spouse. The unnecessary stress of your spouse losing you and losing your shared home through probate can often be avoided with a Will.

In cases of separate property, your partner may end up with a portion or all of it. Their share will still depend on whether you have living descendants from a relationship outside of the marriage.

Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 14-2114, any children of the decedent (the person who died), whether biological or adopted, will receive a share of the intestate property. The amount they, or other relatives, might receive will depend on several factors, which an experienced Arizona estate planning attorney can help you calculate.

Speak with a Qualified Arizona Estate Planning Attorney Today

Dana and Associates, LLC specializes in estate planning, Wills, and Trusts in Arizona and has multiple locations. Whether you’re new to estate planning or you want to update your current plan to avoid probate, call (480) 924-4424 today to schedule a free family legal session to make a custom estate plan for you!