What is a Will
Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

What is a Will?

will is a document that states what you want to happen after your death. It’s sometimes referred to as your “last will and testament.” If you die without a will, your estate is distributed to your family following general, pre-established guidelines. This means your estate may be divided in a way you didn’t want. The people you hoped would inherit your estate may not. Your will can include:

  • Beneficiaries
  • Business assets/distribution
  • Care for your pets
  • Disposal of debts/taxes
  • Guardianship for your children and their inheritance
  • Property beneficiaries
  • The executor of your estate

What Does a Will Do?

A will can be used to:

  • Choose an executor
  • Choose a guardian for your children and their property
  • Make decisions about how taxes and debts will be paid
  • Leave instruction about what needs to happen to your property after you die
  • Can be used a backup to a living trust
  • Protect minor beneficiaries

What Happens If You Do Not Have a Will?

If you do not have a will and you die, the intestacy laws of your state will decide how to distribute your property. This will include decision of your bank accounts, real estate, securities, and any other assets you might own at the time of your death. Intestacy laws differ depending on whether you have children, are married, or single at the time of your death. In many cases, property gets distributed to your heirs if you do not have a will. An heir could be a surviving spouse, siblings, parents, uncles and aunts, nephews, nieces, and other distant relatives. If you have no heirs, your entire estate goes to your state of residence.

Who Needs a Will?

Almost everyone should have a will in place. You may think you are not rich enough to need one or the law will take care of everything. Arizona, like every other state, has laws in place to determine what happens to your property if you do not have an estate plan. However, if you rely on the state, you lose all say in what happens after you pass.

If you have money or property, you probably care about what happens to it. This can include personal items with sentimental value, as well as money or business holdings. Further, if you have minor children, you don’t want to leave it to the government to work out what should happen to them. In short, if you have anything or anyone you care about, you should have a will in place.

How a Will Works

A will allows you to describe your wishes for what happens after you pass. You can create one document for yourself and your spouse, or separate documents for each of you. They can outline what happens to your property, assets, debts, and any minor children under your care when you die. A will lays out any specific gifts, personal items you want to give to people, as well as general bequests for dividing your estate. In Arizona, you must sign your will in order for it to be valid. You must have two witnesses sign as well.

Having this document in place does more than direct your wishes. It also gives peace of mind to the people you love. It allows them to know what you wanted and know you’re caring for them even after you pass on. It’s a final way for you to take care of those who matter in your life.

Your Will or Trust for Peace of Mind

Estate planning is the right thing to do for the people you love. It’s another way to say “thank you” to those who love you. Some of the decisions are hard, but at Ogborne Law, we will help you navigate these difficult decisions. Your Arizona estate planning attorney can help you select a will or trust or both. Your estate solution will work for you. You will have the peace of mind that comes with effective planning for the future. Call 602.343.1435 or contact Ogborne Law with questions.