Quick Guide to Estate Planning in Arizona
By Zachary Mushkatel on June 28, 2016
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If you have any assets – even minimal assets – you should take the time to work with an experienced estate planning attorney and make plans for your estate.
An attorney, for instance, can help you to draft a Will or Trust that allows you to control how your assets are disbursed to the beneficiaries of your choosing after your death. A lawyer can also help you to explore other estate planning tools in order to distribute your estate in the best manner possible for your individual needs.
In addition, a lawyer can help you with Powers of Attorney to ensure that your desires regarding your healthcare, financial and other personal decisions are respected and upheld in the event you become incapacitated.
The following is a guide to help familiarize you with the estate planning process before you meet with a lawyer.
Questions You Should Ask Yourself
Before you meet with an estate planning attorney, you should take a close look at your estate, your family’s specific or individual needs, and charitable wishes. Keep in mind that an estate consists of more than your savings and material possessions. It can include anything in which you have a vested interest such as a share of a business, real estate, timeshares, and debts owed to you by a third party.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Meeting with an Arizona Estate Planning Lawyer
What are my possessions?
Make a list of all of your significant possessions and assets, including those that are significant in financial terms as well as in sentimental terms. The list could include your home, your vehicle, tangible items including jewelry, collections (stamp, coin, gun, etc.), and any other category of assets in which you have an ownership interest. Once you have a comprehensive list of all that you own, you can get a stronger grasp on how to plan your estate.
How do I own these possessions?
Do I own this asset as my sole property? Do I own this asset jointly with another person (spouse, child, business partner, etc.)? Is there a named beneficiary or survivorship clause? These are all important questions to ask yourself, and the answers will assist in setting the direction for your estate plan
If I die today, who will take care of my dependents?
If you have dependents, including children and adults, think about their immediate and long-term care in the event of your death. You should make sure to address your loved ones’ needs when you are planning your estate and express your wishes regarding who should assume responsibility for your dependents upon your death.
What are my plans for my assets?
Many subsequent decisions you make in the estate planning process will flow from your answer to this question. Determine a sustainable future plan for your assets that addresses growth, protection, the eventual transfer to your beneficiaries, and any guidance or conditions for that transfer.
What are my plans for my own long-term care?
You also need to address your own needs during your lifetime, including Powers of Attorney and a Living Will. An Agent under a Power of Attorney can make financial and medical decision on your behalf if you become incapacitated. A Living Will provides instructions regarding your wishes for end of life care and treatment.
Questions You Should Ask Your Estate Planning Attorney
Once you have determined your answers to the above questions, you should schedule a meeting with an estate planning attorney. At this meeting, may should discuss the following:
Does my Will/Trust need to be updated?
As the years pass, our lives and needs change. Based upon those changes, our wishes regarding the distribution of our estate change as well. Additionally, the laws governing Wills, Trusts, and estates may change over time. It is important to discuss with your attorney how often you should review your estate plan, either individually or with your attorney.
How do you handle clients’ estate plan updates?
As discussed above, your estate plan will change if it has not already. This is simply the nature of our evolving lives and needs. Talk with your attorney about how he or she will handle these updates.
Should I consider creating a trust?
Although trusts are not always necessary, they can be a useful tool in an estate plan. Discuss your circumstances, financial and otherwise, with your attorney to determine if you and your beneficiaries would be well-served by creating a trust.
Arizona Estate Planning Checklist
The following is a quick checklist you can use while getting started with your estate planning:
- Determine your total pool of assets. Include what you currently hold and how you expect those assets to appreciate.
- Determine your beneficiaries. Your list should include your spouse, children, other family members, friends, and charitable organizations.
- Schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney. Do your research and find an attorney who will pay close attention to your needs and objectives.
- File all required beneficiary forms. Work closely with your lawyer to prepare and file these forms with your bank and other entities so as to ensure your accounts are distributed in accordance with your overall estate plan.
- Store your estate planning documents. Choose a secure location. Disclose this location to your attorney, spouse, and the person or persons you intend to nominate to serve as Agent / Personal Representative / Trustee.
Work with an Experienced Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney
Anybody who has assets should have a plan for their future. Although the prospect of sitting down with an attorney to draft your personal estate plans may seem overwhelming, taking care of this now will make it much easier for your loved ones to carry out your wishes during what will already be a trying time.
To get started on your estate plan with an experienced Phoenix estate planning attorney, contact our team at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, and set up your appointment with us.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.