Will or Revocable Trust?
If you die without a will or trust in Arizona (and most other states), your property will be distributed according to the state’s intestate succession laws (with spouses and children getting first priority as beneficiaries). If your intent is to leave your property to your spouse, or to your children if your spouse predeceases you, then a will is not absolutely necessary to ensure that your property will get to the right people. However, you should have some say in whom serves as your executor, or personal representative, and a will is crucial if you wish to deviate in any way from the state’s intestate succession laws (e.g., you wish to omit a child, or leave a bequest to charity).
Parents of a disabled child (minor or adult) receiving government benefits should also have wills or trusts, since an outright distribution to that child would likely disqualify the child from eligibility to receive benefits such as SSI or AHCCCS. The will or trust should either expressly omit the child, or set up a special treatment trust.
A will can include a trust, which in that context is called a testamentary trust. Testamentary trusts do not bypass probate. Assets transferred to a revocable living trust during one’s lifetime bypass probate completely. There are many arguments for and against a Revocable Trust. For a more detailed comparison, please see Will/Trust Comparison Chart.
If you schedule an appointment to meet with one of our estate planning attorneys, please review our Estate Planning Worksheet fill it out to the best of your ability and bring it with you.
Personal Representative – A person appointed to dispose of property and carry out the directions and requests in a Will or to dispose of the property in accordance with the laws of intestate succession, when a person dies with no will.