Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Arizona wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with the testator (or the person making the will) in creating valid Arizona wills and in assigning a person (called the executor in most states) to administer an Arizona last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements for: Arizona Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old.
Capacity: The testator must be of sound mind (capable of reasoning and making decisions).
Signature: An Arizona Last Will and Testament must be signed by the testator, or in the testator's name by some other individual in the testator's conscious presence and by the testator's direction
Witnesses: Signed by at least two people, after each person witnessed either the signing of the will or the testator's acknowledgment of his signature or the will itself.
Writing: An Arizona last will and testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A will may make a disposition of property to any person.
Other types of recognized wills:
Holographic Wills: A holographic will is one that is handwritten by the testator. Although Arizona law recognizes a handwritten will, state laws can be very particular regarding the construction of handwritten wills.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Arizona laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
Our Arizona wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Arizona wills form may also be used to name an executor to handle a testator's property and affairs from the time of death until an estate is settled.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Community property passes onto the surviving spouse.
Homestead allowance: A decedent's surviving spouse is entitled to a homestead allowance of $18,000. If there is no surviving spouse, each minor child and each dependent child of the decedent is entitled to a homestead allowance amounting to $18,000 divided by the number of minor and dependent children of the decedent.
Exempt property: The decedent's surviving spouse is entitled $7,000 in household furniture, automobiles, furnishings, appliances, and personal effects from the estate. If there is no surviving spouse, the decedent's children are entitled to share the same value.
Providing for Pets
Under applicable Arizona state laws, a trust for the care of your pets is valid provided that it is less than 21 years in duration. After your death, the trust allows you to assign a caretaker for your pet(s) to ensure proper care of your pet(s). LegalZoom's Arizona wills form gives you the choice of providing for your pets in this manner.
Changing and Revoking
Changing an Arizona Will and Testament
An Arizona will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A will can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Arizona laws.
Revoking an Arizona Will and Testament
An Arizona will and testament, or a part of one, is revoked:
(1) by creating a subsequent will that expressly revokes all or part of the previous will, or that contains conflicting terms from the previous will; or
(2) by performing a revocatory act on the will (which includes burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating, or destroying all or part of the will), if the testator performs the act with the intent of revoking the will or if another person performs the act in the testator's conscious presence and by the testator's direction.
Probate and Estate Taxes
After the testator has died, probate procedures take place to prove the validity of the Arizona last will, pay off debts and taxes of the estate, appoint a personal representative to administrate the will, and distribute property as designated in the Arizona last will. Arizona laws allow for informal probate and formal testacy proceedings. Informal probate bypasses the court (although the court still has to approve the request) to distribute property while formal testacy proceedings occur when the validity of the will is disputed by a party. Furthermore, supervised administration of the will, where the court oversees the entire distribution of property, can be applied for in court.
Arizona's estate tax is equal to the federal estate tax credit. In general, if Federal estate tax is not owed on the estate covered by an Arizona last will, then state estate taxes are not due. According to the Arizona Department of Revenue: "The maximum allowable federal state death tax credit is being reduced each year from 2002 through 2004. This phase-out will eliminate the credit in 2005. The Arizona estate tax will similarly be reduced each year from 2002 through 2004 and will be eliminated in 2005." The estate taxes owed from probate of your Arizona last will are determined using these guidelines.
It is extremely important to make an Arizona will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Arizona state laws.
For example, your surviving spouse will take the entire estate if you have no surviving children or direct descendants.
If you make an Arizona will, you can prevent the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.