Wills and Probate: Questions to Ask

Everyone should have a will. You may say, “I am too young for a will,” or “I am not sick.” You may say, “I do not have anything to leave behind,” or “I am just going to leave everything to my spouse.” While these things may all be true, life can throw unexpected curveballs your way. For example, what happens if you die in a car accident? What happens if your spouse dies with you? Though you may have relatively few assets, what happens to your minor children in the event of your death? What happens to your house? What happens to your pets? These questions are hard to ask yourself because they require you to think about very sad and unlikely events. However, they highlight the importance of drafting a will now. Not only is drafting a will just a good idea to make sure that your wishes are carried out in the event of your untimely death, but it will also help your family make difficult decisions during a time when they are already suffering a great deal of emotional and possibly financial pain.

 

So, what do you need to know about wills. First, what is a will? A will is a legal document that lays out what happens to your assets, such as your car, furniture, jewelry, and other belongings, what happens to any real property that you own, such as your house or land, and what happens to any savings accounts or investment accounts that you maintain. A will can also specify who you would like to become the guardian of your minor children, pets, or of any incapacitated adult in your care.

 

Second, how do you write a will? You can write a will on your own, though you should conduct research to determine what your state requires to make valid will. Each state has its own requirements for a valid will and may specify things like who must sign the will, whether the will must be witnessed and by how many people, and even if notarization will help validate the will. It is always a good idea to consult a competent attorney to help you with these questions.

 

Third, what is probate? Probate is a court process in which a judge will review the will to check for a few things including, an analysis of whether the will is valid, a review of the decedent’s debts to make sure that all necessary debts are paid from the estate before the assets are distributed, and then to ensure that the terms of the will are followed in accordance with state law. This process can take time, and can be costly. Most wills go through probate, though some small estates are exempt from the process.

 

Fourth, so what should I do? You should write a will. You should do your research to make sure your will is valid and will stand up in court. You should anticipate probate. Know that in the event of your death there may be a significant delay before your loved ones receive any funds from your estate. You can reduce the amount of time it takes for your will to go through probate if you make sure it is appropriately drafted. Consider consulting an attorney. They can help make sure your will meets all the criteria prescribed by state law and may recommend ways to structure your will to reduce time in probate. If you need any legal help regarding wills or probates contact Wills and Trusts Lawyer Scottsdale AZ and locals turn to for any information.


Thank you to Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for providing the answers to these key questions.