How to Make a Will in Arizona


How to Make a Will in Arizona

As an adult with valuable assets, it’s essential to have a last will and testament in place for peace of mind and protection of your loved ones. Your will allows you to plan for the future by dictating how your assets are divided after you have passed away.

Before you meet with an estate planning attorney to review your options, you should understand how to make a will in Arizona. Today, our estate planning experts at Dana and Associates are explaining the steps involved in making a will in Arizona, along with a brief explanation of what happens when you forgo a will.

Steps to Making a Will in Arizona

Ready to learn how to make a will in Arizona? Here are the steps involved in the process.

  1. Choose an Executor

The first step in making a will is nominating an executor who will act as the personal representative of your estate. When you die, this is the person who will take legal actions on your behalf like distributing assets to your beneficiaries. This is where many people get stuck in the process, especially if they are writing their own will. An unexpected benefit of working with an estate planning attorney is that they can provide guidance and support as you weigh your options and make decisions for your will.

  1. Name Beneficiaries and Guardians

Next, you will need to name the beneficiaries to whom you would like to give assets. Be specific and include full names, dates of birth, addresses, and anything else you can use to identify them. If you are a parent or legal guardian, you will also need to name guardians for the minors or dependents in your care.

  1. Divide Your Assets

Before you can decide how to divide your assets, you’ll need to start by taking inventory. This includes properties, accounts, and valuable possessions like jewelry and art. If you have specific beneficiaries in mind for your assets, be sure to write that down. Your executor will need instructions on how to divide your assets for you.

  1. Sign the Will and Have it Witnessed

Once your will has been drafted, you will need to print a typed copy and sign it. In Arizona, you must sign your finalized will in front of two witnesses. Those witnesses must also sign your will within a reasonable period of time. If you happen to be handwriting your will, then the witness signatures are not required. However, the entire will must be in your handwriting for it to be valid.

  1. Update Your Will Regularly and the Right Way

In our work, we often see the results of someone not updating their will. For example, after a divorce you likely want to update your will to remove your former spouse. Or, when you have a child or have any big changes to your assets. Additionally, if the person you named as your personal representative dies and you don’t update your will, then the courts will have to choose someone to handle your affairs. A good rule of thumb is to check your will every three to five years for any updates. But, do not simply scribble edits on the document or scratch things out. Consult with your attorney for the correct way to make changes, or, in the case of a handwritten will, it’s best to write a new one.

What Happens If You Don’t Make a Will?

How to Make a Will in ArizonaIf you die without a last will and testament in place, your assets will be distributed according to Arizona’s intestacy laws. This means that the courts will start by giving your assets to your closest relatives, starting with your spouse and children.

If you’re unmarried and don’t have children, your property would then go to your parents or grandparents. If you don’t have living parents or grandparents, the list continues through your family tree until someone has been found to take your assets. In the event that the probate court cannot find a next of kin, your estate would be liquidated and the funds would go to the state. Having an updated will in place is vital so you can control how your assets are distributed.

Trusted Phoenix Estate Planning Attorneys

If you don’t already have a will in place or need to update your will due to a recent life change, it’s time to consult with an experienced attorney. As a top estate planning law firm serving Arizona and Southern California, our team at Dana and Associates is here to help you through every step of the estate planning process.

With our Arizona estate planning attorneys by your side, you can rest assured that your affairs will be handled with attentiveness and compassion. Browse our practice areas page to learn more about what we can do for you or contact our team for a free consultation.