Arizona Estate Planning Myths and Misconceptions

Arizona’s Full-Service Estate Planning Law Firm


There are many myths about wills that people believe. Therefore, our Arizona Will Attorneys and Estate Planning Lawyers take a look at some myths and misconceptions that people have regarding creating a will, a probate issue, and other forms of estate planning in Arizona.

Even if you haven’t created your estate plan yet, you’ve probably heard a lot about wills, and maybe a little about trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate planning instruments. And unless you work at an estate planning law firm, a lot of what you have heard is probably wrong. Read on to learn the most common misconceptions our clients come to us with, and how the law actually applies in Arizona. If you have additional questions about planning your estate in Arizona, call 480-833-8000 or use our online form to request your free consultation.

Estate Planning Myths

Misconceptions about Estate Planning explained by experienced Arizona Attorney
  • I don’t need to plan my estate unless I have a literal estate. 

    Everyone can benefit from an estate plan, not just the wealthy. There are several types of documents that you can use to create your estate plan so that your family can avoid taxes and probate court after you pass away. And much of estate planning has nothing to do with passing down your most valuable possessions. Planning your estate gives you the opportunity to designate who should be your estate’s executor or child’s legal guardian when you pass away. You can also decide which medical treatments you would like to receive, or who should be responsible for making those decisions, if you ever lose the legal capacity to do so for yourself.

  • The state will get my estate if I pass away without a will. 

    Even if you pass away without an estate plan, the state rarely ends up getting your estate. Each state has its own intestacy laws that determine what should happen to the estate of someone who passes away without a will. Arizona’s intestacy laws direct the estate first to a surviving spouse and descendants, or children, grandchildren, and so on. If you don’t have a surviving spouse or descendants, it will then go to your parents or their descendants. The state will only receive the estate if they are unable to locate any potential heirs.

  • A will’s only purpose is to designate who receives which of your assets.

    It is true that you can use your last will and testament to state who should receive what from your estate. But your will can also serve two other important functions. The first is designating who should be the legal guardian of your children if you pass before they reach adulthood. While your will won’t override custody orders from the family court, it can make things much easier if your children are left without a legal guardian when you pass away. You can also designate your estate’s executor in your will. The executor will make sure that your estate moves through the probate process successfully.

  • It doesn’t matter who I choose as the executor of my estate. 

    The executor of your estate will have several responsibilities that must be completed before your assets can be distributed amongst your beneficiaries. Some of these include filing your death certificate and will with the court, paying any taxes on your estate, dealing with your debts and creditors, and more. So if you pick someone who is disorganized and consistently running late, you can probably expect your estate to be handled in the same way. You should first pick someone who is reliable, and then make sure they are okay with being named your estate’s executor. You should also find a suitable alternate in case your first choice for executor can’t fulfill their duties.

  • My children and other beneficiaries are just going to blow any money I leave for them, so it’s pointless to list them in my estate plan.

    Maybe someone in your family struggles with addiction, or is simply irresponsible. That doesn’t mean that you can’t leave them anything in your estate plan. If you’re worried about how your loved ones will spend what you leave them, you may want to consider using a trust. Trusts can be used to leave money and assets to be used for a specific purpose only. For example, you can create an educational trust that can only be used for college expenses. Or you can create a trust that can only be used for the medical expenses of a sick or disabled family member. There are many options available when creating trusts, so you should discuss them with an estate planning attorney in your area.

  • Every estate has to go through probate, so there is no reason to plan my estate to avoid it. 

    Many states have small estate provisions that allow certain estates to bypass the probate process. In Arizona, the small estate limits are $75,000 in personal property and $100,000 in real property. Real property refers to houses, cabins, and other real estate, while personal property refers to the rest of your personal possessions. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to use estate planning instruments like trusts to help keep your estate under Arizona’s small estate limits.

  • Once I place assets in a trust, I won’t have access to them for the rest of my life. 

    It is true that you can create an irrevocable living trust which you won’t be able to touch once created. However, you can also create a revocable

    living trust, which you can change or cancel at any time that you have the requisite legal capacity. A revocable trust offers flexibility that an irrevocable trust doesn’t provide, but also comes with some disadvantages. First, assets in a revocable trust aren’t protected from your creditors. Secondly, revocable trusts can be subject to additional taxation as compared to irrevocable trusts. Speak to an experienced Arizona estate planning lawyer to decide which works better for you.

  • Changing my will changes my beneficiaries across all of my estate planning instruments.

    If one of your family members passes away, or if you wish to disinherit someone, you will probably need to make some major changes to your estate plan. But removing a beneficiary won’t remove them from any trusts, powers of attorneys, or any other estate planning documents you have created. In some cases, you may be able to amend your estate plan through a document called a codicil. However, it may be easier to revoke your estate plan and start over with a new one. You will also need to remove anyone you wish to disown from your life insurance policy or any other policies on which they are named a beneficiary.

  • Hiring an estate planning attorney in Arizona is a waste of money. 

    Many people assume that using self-help forms to create their estate plan will leave more of their estate for their loved ones. However, a simple will may not provide the opportunity to avoid taxes and probate like you could if you used a combination of estate planning instruments. You could also make mistakes in the wording or execution of your will that could lead to expensive and time-consuming probate disputes. An estate planning attorney can help you create a strategic plan that will maintain your family’s privacy, speed up when they receive their inheritances, avoid taxes, and more.

Arizona Will Lawyer Near Me

Find out more about the advantages you could enjoy with an attorney and the risks you face creating your estate plan alone with your 100% free initial consultation. Our dedicated estate planning team offers expert services with compassion at prices that will fit your budget. Call 480-833-8000 or use our online form to schedule your consultation today.



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