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Points to remember when planning to create a will - Part I

There was a time when people thought that estate planning is only meant for the wealthy. That is no longer the case as people of all economic backgrounds are starting to understand the benefits of a well-crafted estate plan. The first step toward that goal is drafting a will. A will contains the final directions of a person regarding what is to be done with his or her property after death. In the absence of a will, the estate is entered into probate and assets are distributed per the probate court's order.

When it comes to creating a will, there are a set of basic rules that are applicable in Arizona and most other states in the country. The creator of the will:

  • must be at least 18 years old for it to be a valid will.
  • must write it in adequate mental condition and with sound judgment.
  • must clearly mention in the document that it is a last will.
  • must name an executor of the will in the document for it to be valid.
  • must sign it in the presence of at least two witnesses.
  • may choose to notarize it to safeguard against claims of it being invalid.

In addition, it is important to remember that a financial will and testament will always supersede a last will and testament when it comes to the bestowing of financial assets. Also, in community property states like Arizona, the surviving spouse is entitled to one half of the assets in an estate after the death of the spouse, irrespective of share of the estate that the deceased spouse leaves to the surviving spouse.

While these are the basic pointers for creating a will, there are plenty of other aspects in estate planning for which a person may choose to engage legal counsel. For example, the creator of a will needs to know the inheritance process in Arizona, how the execution of the will actually takes place, what estate disposition is and when it is required and how guardianships of minors work, among other things.

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