Thinking about death is something most people prefer not to do, but preparing for the end of life and the multiple decisions that surround it is important for everyone. Making arrangements and creating a will is an excellent plan of action for every individual, especially if you’re in a serious relationship, married, or have a family. At THE GOLDEN RULE LAW GROUP®, Decker & Woods, P.C., we understand that thinking about your death and making decisions about what you want to happen afterwards is difficult, and our team is always kind, understanding, compassionate, and discreet when discussing estate planning and the distribution of assets for an individual. Call us today if you’re in Arizona and in need of estate planning. It’s never too early to make sure your affairs are in order.

What is a Will?

A will is simply a legal document setting forth the last wishes and decisions someone has made regarding the distribution of his or her assets after death.  You can leave money, valuables, or property to family members (or whomever you wish), direct donations or contributions to causes or foundations that are important to you, and leave instructions for the settling of debts or the sale of your home or other property. If you prefer, you can leave directions for certain items to go to a specific individual. You can also name a Personal Representative (also known as an executor), who will carry out your wishes. If you feel that it would be best for a neutral party to be responsible for the distribution of your belongings and assets, you can designate a financial institution or an estate attorney to handle your estate. It’s important to note that choosing an attorney or bank as Personal Representative will incur a fee, which can be calculated as a percentage of the estate assets. While creating a will is a difficult task for many, because it is the acknowledgement of our inevitable demise and expiration, leaving a will with your wishes and vital information can reduce the amount of stress placed on surviving family members and ensure that your desires are respected after your death. Unfortunately, many people die without a will, and while it may seem like something you can put off for another day, it’s extremely important and should be taken care of at your earliest convenience.

What If I Die Without a Will?

Some individuals prefer to not make a will, and when they die, they will be considered “intestate”. This basically means that their property, assets, and belongings will be distributed based on the laws of the state. This legal process is called “probate” and requires legal representation by a lawyer. A judge will appoint a Personal Representative or an administrator, who will be handle the estate. While this individual is bound to follow what is laid out by the law, sometimes decisions will be made that might not sit well with the family. Unfortunately, because the individual died without a will, the administrator can only follow the law and will not be able to make exceptions for the family.

How Do I Create a Will?

You can write a will on your own, which some people prefer to do so that they can be alone with their thoughts and make decisions based on their own feelings, rather than the prodding of others. Unfortunately, serious and expensive mistakes can be made, so once you’ve written a rough draft, find a reputable estate lawyer to look over it, make any edits, and oversee execution to ensure the will is valid. Generally, the more specific you can be the better, as vague language can be left up to the interpretation of family members and possibly create disagreements. If you want your cousin Larry to get your vintage restored car, write it into the will. An estate lawyer will provide legal advice and help you address anything you may have left out. Once the will is complete, you will need to have it witnessed to validate your signature.

End of life plans are a difficult, but necessary, part of life and it’s important to make sure that your affairs are in order for the sake of your family and loved ones left behing. If you’re searching for an estate lawyer in Arizona, contact THE GOLDEN RULE LAW GROUP®, Decker and Woods, P.C. Our caring and compassionate lawyers will handle your case with understanding and sympathy and do everything in their power to make the process simple and frustration-free. Call us today at (480) 821-1012 to set up a telephonic appointment.