Generally, estate planning is the process of organization of your personal and financial affairs.  It involves three steps:

  1. Gathering information about you and your background.  For example, identifying people and organizations that are important to you, your personal preferences and objectives and your personal financial information.
  2. Creating the documentation necessary to implement your personal preferences upon your incapacity or death.  This usually includes a will, trust, financial powers of attorney and healthcare power of attorney.  It could also include a living will, retirement account or life insurance beneficiary designation, irrevocable trust or new entity.  Your finances and personal preferences dictate the documents and their complexity.
  3. Administering your affairs in accordance with your documentation during your life and upon your incapacity and death.  Properly funding your trust and complying with the formalities of your instruments are imperative to achieving your estate planning objectives.

What is probate?

Probate refers to the judicial administration of your will or trust.  It can be as simple as an informal probate, which involves filing documents with the court clerk to obtain the power to administer a will at death.  Or as complex as a supervised formal probate where every decision regarding the administration of a will or trust is made by a judge.  Probate in Arizona is not complicated, time consuming or expensive, but all things being equal, trusts are easier, faster and can eliminate unnecessary costs because a fully funded trust avoids probate entirely.  This is beneficial if you want to expedite the administration of your estate and avoid the public disclosure requirements of probate.

If you are interested in discussing your estate planning needs with us, please call us at (480) 281-1512 or fill out the form to the right.