How to Find a Good Estate Planning Attorney
To the uninitiated, finding a good estate planning attorney can look complicated. The task of settling an estate is often overwhelming, and the skills to do it right aren’t easy to find.
But it’s not impossible. You can use a series of basic steps to find a good estate planning attorney, and each successive step will bring you closer to success.
First, though, it’s important to know the skill set and what these lawyers typically do. Estate attorneys typically draft living trusts, and they have to know the tax laws in Arizona, and possibly other states when they develop a plan to avoid or minimize estate taxes.
Also, keep in mind that you’ll be trusting your assets and savings to someone who will start off as a virtual stranger, so an impeccable track record is essential.
Estate lawyers also have the ability to grant power of attorney, so you’ll need to check their skills and track record in that area as well. They’ll be making health care decisions as well if physical illness or mental incapacitation is involved, so they need experience and expertise with those kinds of issues, too.
As you can see, general practitioners may not have enough expertise to cover all this ground. Look for a practice devoted exclusively to estate planning, and make sure you have a high comfort level with the lawyer. That means a face to face meeting and an office tour-don’t skimp on either one of these.
Needless to say, a thorough knowledge of the law is also important. Subtle changes in estate law are a constant of the business, and your situation could be thrown into chaos if the lawyer doesn’t know the latest version of the law.
One good way to find a good estate attorney is from an accountant or financial planner. Experts in this area often work hand in hand with estate lawyers, so they’re likely to know a good one. The local or state bar association can also be good for quality referrals, and you can ask your local probate court or consult other attorneys to find the best and the brightest.
You also need to ask plenty of pointed questions about the potential cost. You’ll pay more initially to have an estate plan set up, so make sure you know how much more and set up a regular schedule of how those costs will rise or fall over time.
Check on the ancillary costs as well. You should come away with a full understanding of all hidden charges, not to mention how much they’, too, will change and increase over time. This should include all potential fees and ancillary expenses.
Don’t forget about medical law, either. Estate planning often involves issues of mental capacity, and these can be complex and intricate. Ask questions to every potential candidate about recent experience, and how legal issues might affect your situation.
Documentation is yet another important area. Estate planning is a paperwork-oriented process, so ask to see samples of how your lawyer handles this.
Know whether you’ll be charged a flat fee or an hourly, and how these costs pertain to documentation.
Finally, use the particulars of your situation as a litmus test. Don’t be afraid to throw out possibilities, both likely and unlikely, and see what kinds of answers you get. The answers will tell you a long way about whether you’ve found the right person, but it’s worthwhile to make the search as thorough and comprehensive as possible.
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What is Probate, and Why You Should Talk to a Probate Lawyer
On the surface, probate is a simple concept. It can be seen as distributing the assets that need to be transferred following someone’s death, and it’s also the process of proving the legitimacy of the will and final testimony of the deceased.
In reality, though, probate is anything but simple. The fact that those assets usually involved property or real estate listed in the name of the deceased almost invariably make the process at least somewhat complicated. Another thing that tends to complicate the probate process is that legal steps are usually required to execute the transfer of the inheritance in Arizona.
Probate isn’t always complicated, though. If possessions are the primary items being transferred to family and friend, the probate process itself may not be required.
And there’s more good news. Being able to avoid probate in this kind of situation keeps things simple, and it keeps them private as well. It also lowers the costs because fees and taxes are removed from the equation, which usually tends to speed the process along.
But probate is usually essential when estates are large and complicated and multiple assets are included. These assets can include real estate, cash, and valuables, as well as more obscure items that may have significant value.
There are some good reasons why you should talk to a lawyer when these kind of complications are involved. The probate process includes paying any necessary debts and taxes on property or possessions, and the will must be proven valid as well. An inventory must be taken of the assets and property of the deceased, and lawyers and court fees are normally paid out of the estate property.
There’s also paperwork involved. The executor who oversees the probate process must file papers in court, and relatives and creditors must be notified about the death. Probate lawyers step in when there are issues that must be negotiated or adjudicated. One example would be an artwork collection that needs to be appraised. Another is when assets have to be sold to cover debts, and lawyers typically handle the more intricate financial aspects of the situation before any transfer occurs.
The knowledge level of a probate lawyer matters as well. Some states, for example have an upper monetary limit about the amount that can be handled and transferred without an official probate process, and a good probate lawyer will be aware of how this works. It may affect the process in Arizona, so its important to know the intricacies of that kind of situation as well. And probate lawyers also know how to differentiate between property that can be passed outside of the will-e.g., a trust-without being subject to probate.
If no formal probate is required, a relative or close friend may be designated as the administrator, or that person can act as an informal representative of the estate. There are many personal factors that go into determining whether the probate process is necessary as well. These include the age of the deceased and those who are inheriting from him or her, various health factors, overall wealth, the amount of property involved, and so on.
Some combinations may indicate that its better to do estate planning to avoid probate, but even if this is the case its wise to consult an attorney. A good probate lawyer can be a valuable resource, so make sure you get one with the necessary expertise and experience to represent your interests and handle the process to get you best possible results.
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When You Should Update Your Will
While few of us want to admit it, everyone dies. Living wills spell out the care you do and do not want to receive in dire circumstances. Wills are there to tell everyone what you want to happen when you die. Ideally, you draft a will as soon as you’re a legal adult. However, the will should change and evolve as you do. Here are a few occasions when you should update your will.
You need to update your will once you have children. Your children may legally inherit from you when you die, but children under the age of 18 can’t manage or access money. They need a guardian, and you may want to appoint a financial trustee to oversee their inheritance, as well. Name who you want to take care of your children if you die, so that they don’t end up in a relative you don’t consider fit to raise them. You should name more than one potential guardian, so that your children never end up in foster care. You don’t have to update the will as your minor children hit majority, because they remain heirs with an equal share. However, you may want to update the will to leave a specific bequest to your grandchildren instead of letting money go to your grown child.
Arizona is a community property state. This means that your spouse gets everything accumulated during the marriage, if you don’t have a will. Unfortunately, this can cause problems if you have property you owned prior to the marriage or are in a second marriage. Update your will when you get married to ensure that your property is fairly divided between your spouse and other relatives. Or simply eliminate the risk of infighting by making it clear you want everything to go to your current spouse. If you get divorced, you need to update your will. Fail to do this, and your ex may get everything.
In the Event of Death
Wills should be updated any time key individuals involved are deceased. For example, you should update your will if the named executors have themselves died. If one of the heirs named in the will has passed on, their shares will be divided among their heirs. This isn’t necessarily a problem if they are survived by a spouse and child, but you don’t want your death to create problems for another family. Update your will if intended beneficiaries pass on.
When You Move
You don’t have to update your will because you moved from Phoenix to Mesa. However, you must update your will if you change your primary residence from Chicago to Mesa. Your will should be written and notarized in the state where you legally live full or most of the time for it to be valid.
When Individuals Age and Change
Your now adult children may have proven themselves to be capable of being an executor of your estate. You don’t have to update your will to name them as potential executors if the people already listed as executors on the estate are still competent. However, you must update the will if your stated executors have become incompetent. It could be anything from mental illness to addiction to dementia. If they can’t do the job anymore, update the will. Note that the same is true for any potential guardians for your children. If Mom’s health means she can’t keep up with three kids anymore, name someone else as a guardian.
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The Pros and Cons of Trusts
The word trust implies confidence, integrity and reliability. The word also refers to a fiduciary arrangement. In general, assets are put in the trust on behalf of a specific beneficiary. Yet these legal instruments are not used as often as they could be. This is because of the disadvantages of using a trust in many circumstances. However, they provide value or else they wouldn’t be a centuries long tradition in common law. Let’s look at the pros and cons of trusts. We’ll also share a few observations about trusts.
The Pros of Trusts
Assets in a trust often pass outside of probate. This saves everyone time and money. It can preserve their privacy.
Trusts allow you to control your wealth. If you die without a trust, the money will go to your heirs the way your will or Arizona state law mandates. A trust allows you to control who gets what assets and when. For example, state law may prevent someone from inheriting money until they are 21. A trust could be set up to limit access to money until someone is through with school or even 30 years old.
It can protect your estate from creditors. A trust may protect your assets in case you are sued. That’s one reason why many property investors put their real estate in trusts. It can also hold your assets and dole out payments to heirs you don’t consider adept at money management.
Trusts are the best tool available for providing for special needs adults. The trust could be funded with assets you already have or life insurance proceeds. A trustee could use that money to pay for their expenses even after you die.
The Cons of Trusts
Drafting a trust and funding it is far more complicated than writing a will, and more than half o f us don’t bother with a will.
Trusts often require constant legal “maintenance”. If you buy more real estate, the trust has to be updated to include these new assets.
Observations about Trusts
An estate planner could tell you how often trust documents go to waste because the person’s will isn’t written in a way to complement the trust. In other cases, the person’s will says put it all in a trust but the trust doesn’t exist at the time they die. One could be set up if the only heirs are dependent minor children, but that may not reflect how you want the property to be distributed. And the trustee may not be the one you would have appointed.
It may or may not reduce your estate tax bill. For example, a Bypass or B trust bypasses a surviving spouse’s estate to maximize the federal estate tax exemption for each of the spouses. Charitable remainder trusts may reduce your overall tax bill, when the assets are set up in a trust on behalf of a charity while you receive some portion of the assets for the remainder of your life. Consult with an Arizona estate law expert to understand how this could be done.
Trusts might help your family avoid conservatorship or guardianship while you’re incapacitated. For example, a successor trustee could manage the trust when you cannot. Always consult with an attorney to set up the trust properly.
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What Is Guardianship?
Guardianship is when someone has legal, financial and social responsibility for someone else. The most common example is parents serving as the guardians for their children. Special needs adults may have that guardianship extended into adulthood. For every other child, the parents’ guardianship ends when they turn 18.
Guardianship of adults requires someone to be found legally incapacitated. This is different than a medical power of attorney that says X will make medical decisions while you are in a coma. The courts must find that the person is legally incapacitated. Once that decision is made by the courts, the incapacitated person loses many rights as the decision making is handed off to someone else.
How Does Guardianship Differ from Conservatorship?
Parents are the natural guardians for their children, unless they choose to give up their rights or have their rights terminated by the court. Conservatorship is established by the court at a court hearing.
Guardians typically take care of the person. This includes overseeing their medical care, treatment, education, support and maintenance. However, a guardian doesn’t necessarily have to use their financial assets to do so. For example, foster parents are given money to cover the needs of the foster children they are taking care of. Conservators are much more likely to be limited to managing the financial assets of the ward. This can include selling someone’s house to pay for their nursing home care or pulling money out of a retirement account to pay for medical care. The conservator is far more likely to be paying nursing home staff or people in a care home to take care of the ward.
Can the Same Person Be a Guardian or Conservator?
With both conservatorship and guardianship, the courts will prefer a family member to serve in this capacity. It may be a sibling, parent, aunt, uncle or other relative. Next of kin are preferred, but these roles don’t have to be filled by family. A friend or professional like a Mesa, Arizona attorney could serve as a conservator, though they rarely act as a guardian unless it is a relative of theirs.
In some cases, a charity or business may serve as a conservator. For example, a nonprofit organization may send a volunteer to manage the assets of a disabled adult. And banks can act as conservators, managing the person’s assets and paying their bills. However, an employee of the care home can’t act as your conservator or guardian. Nor can a judge or civil employee. These cases are considered a conflict of interest.
What Prohibits Someone from Being a Guardian or Conservator?
A 17-year old can’t be a guardian for a 7-year old sibling unless the 17-year old is emancipated. The courts may still refuse to give the 17-year old guardianship over the younger sibling. Applications for guardianship often require an assessment from a medical doctor or psychologist to ensure that they are mentally competent. Someone with dementia or severe physical and mental handicaps would thus be excluded from being the guardian of a minor child or conservator for a disabled adult. Note that this could include one’s own spouse, so draft medical and financial power of attorney documents that ensure each of you has someone else who can act on your behalf when you’re both incapacitated.
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What Is Long-Term Care?
Long-term care refers to the cost of supporting someone with long-term health problems or disabilities. The lightest version of long-term care sends housekeepers and nursing assistants to someone’s home. This allows them to continue to remain at home while providing assistance with taking medication, cleaning up or cooking. Assisted living generally refers to when someone moves into an assisted living community. They may have a private room or apartment. However, someone else is doing the cooking, the cleaning and taking care of other daily tasks. If the person requires assistance checking their blood sugar or being taken to doctor’s appointments, that can be arranged. This type of care is an option for special needs adults who need supervision, though they may live in a group home, too.
A nursing home involves far more medical care. It can include care for someone who is bedridden, on a respirator or requires constant IV infusions. The median nursing home stay is five months, typically ending in death. The average is around 800 days. That’s skewed upward by the 5 to 10 percent of residents who live there for years, some of them severely paralyzed or in a coma.
What Is Long-Term Care Planning?
Long-term care planning is the process of planning for the likely eventual need for long-term care. For example, you’re far more likely to be left disabled for several months due to a heart attack or stroke than to die from it. If you require rehab care after such an event, the average stay is six months. That is not always fully covered by disability insurance, but it may be covered by long-term care insurance.
Long-term care planning means you have a plan in place to handle everything from decision making to paying the bills if you end up in long-term care. In-home care can cost one thousand to four thousand dollars a month. The price will depend on the type of services you choose. Assisted living costs three to six thousand dollars a month. Nursing home costs range from six to ten thousand dollars a month. Just staying here for several months can drain your savings. And that’s on top of the medical bills that are often associated with the event that led to someone landing in a care home. Long-term care planning is essential in preserving a couple’s assets, so that Mom isn’t left with nothing after Dad spends a year in the nursing home. Furthermore, long term care planning is essential for ensuring your money doesn’t run out in retirement due to a stint or two in the hospital. Long term care planning cannot be avoided, because around 70 percent of us require it at some point in our lives.
How Do You Plan for Long Term Care?
A good first step is writing a will. More than half of us haven’t written one at all. Yet you want one in place so that you can minimize the potential legal conflicts between your heirs. An estate plan is better, since it involves a review of your assets and going through the necessary hoops to ensure that money goes where you intended it to go. For example, retirement plans, banks accounts and life insurance policies go to the named beneficiaries, not the people named in your will. However, all of this is preparation for your death, not the final years of your life.
Yet this process is invaluable, because it forces you to consider who you want to manage your estate and consider who is most capable of handling your affairs. There is a good chance that the executor of your will is the best person to be the agent authorized to act on your behalf in a power of attorney.
Work with an estate planning attorney to create a power of attorney document for healthcare and financial matters. A healthcare power of attorney document will allow the agent you’ve chosen to take over making healthcare decisions for you when you’re incapacitated. It will also spell out your wishes, such as when you don’t want to go on a ventilator. A financial power of attorney will designate someone to pay your bills and handle your assets. These individuals can supervise your care if and when you move into a nursing home.
Then there’s the matter of paying for long-term care. One option is tapping into savings or liquidating assets. Another option is long term care insurance, though you must have the policy in place before you can use it. This is an invaluable tool when it comes to protecting your assets for a surviving spouse and paying for their eventual care.
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What Is Conservatorship?
Conservatorship is another term for guardianship. Most of us know what it means for someone to be appointed the guardian of a minor child. You’re acting as their parent and on their behalf until they reach adulthood. What many don’t know is that conservatorship or guardianship can be set up for adults in certain circumstances.
When Is Conservatorship Necessary?
Conservatorship is established when the adult has become incompetent to handle their own affairs. It may be invoked immediately when a power of attorney document has outlined the necessary triggers. In this case, the power of attorney document identifies who is to make decisions on that person’s behalf, whether it is medical or financial.
If you lack power of attorney documents like this, someone must go to court to become the de facto guardian of another. They have to file a petition with the courts stating that the person is no longer competent to manage their own affairs. There will be an investigation, including a psychiatric evaluation of the person. The court will hold hearings to determine if the person is incapacitated. A conservator will be appointed. This is typically a relative, but it could be a friend or an attorney. It is common for parents of a mentally retarded adult to serve as their guardians, but they will want to ensure that someone they know and trust takes over when they can no longer do the job.
A mentally retarded adult will always require a guardian. If their parents cannot or will not do it, a conservator may be named by the guardians or even become the state. Work with an Arizona estate planner or attorney to create the necessary documents so that your special needs child is always taken care of by someone you trust.
When Does Conservatorship End?
The conservator remains conservator until the person dies, they recover their mental faculties or transfer the role to another. For example, your siblings may have to relinquish the role due to their own declining health. Or they may no longer be able to handle the work involved. When creating your estate plan, you should name successor or backup trustees so that someone else you trust can take over responsibility for you instead of a court naming them.
Conservatorship might be established because the person is impaired due to mental illness, chronic drug use or mental deficiency. A rehabilitated drug addict can petition the court to prove they no longer require guardianship. Likewise, someone whose mental illness is now managed by medication can file a petition to regain control of their life. On the other hand, someone with severe dementia or brain damage is unlikely to ever regain their independence.
The Rules Surrounding Conservatorship
The person petitioning to take over responsibility for the incapacitated person is a conservator or guardian. The incapacitated person is referred to as a ward or protected person. An individual or entity like a social services provider can serve as a conservator. The courts can appoint a public fiduciary, too. However, most people want to have the decision making authority pass to someone they know and trust. This has the added benefit of ensuring your quality of care. For example, hospitals may not know what to do with you if you’re left incapacitated without a healthcare power of attorney form on file. This could lead to delays in care while someone goes to court to get that decision-making authority.
Any person seeking to become a guardian or conservator must pass a background check. The state of Arizona will prioritize giving guardianship to someone who already lives in the state, unless they were nominated by the person’s power of attorney.
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How to Use Trusts to Preserve Medicaid Benefits
Trusts can be a useful tool in protecting assets while preserving your eligibility for Medicaid. Furthermore, trusts can be used to meet the needs of heirs and family members though they’re currently utilizing Medicaid today. However, not everyone needs or would benefit from a trust.
What Assets Are Ignored When Determining Medicaid Eligibility?
A surprising number of assets are ignored when the state of Arizona determines your eligibility for Medicaid. For example, 401Ks and IRAs are not counted. Instead, the income is. Your income as an individual must be below a set monthly threshold to qualify. As of this writing, your monthly income from all sources must be a little less than 2,200 per month. The income threshold is doubled for married couples.
The Medicaid program ignores modifications to your home made to accommodate someone who is disabled. For example, spending thousands of dollars to add wheelchair ramps, a universally accessible bathroom or widening the doorways won’t count against you. However, your home’s total value minus these modifications does count toward your available assets.
Prepaid burial and funeral expenses don’t count toward your Medicaid asset threshold of roughly 2000 per person. A life insurance policy worth up to 2500 dollars will not count against you, either. A primary residence is generally exempted, depending on its value.
Protecting Assets from Medicaid
The Medicaid protection trust or MAPT is one set up specifically so that higher net worth individuals can qualify for Medicare. That’s why it is also called a Medicaid qualifying trust. In fact, it is sometimes called a home protection trust because it is sometimes used specifically to shield real estate from seizure by the state. Assets can be put in other types of trusts to pass on to your heirs outside of probate and beyond the reach of Medicaid. On the flipside, you can set up a trust to protect assets that would otherwise be inherited by someone who is on Medicaid so that the inheritance doesn’t destroy their eligibility for the program. Consult with an estate planning expert to determine what option is best for your particular situation.
Do not attempt to give away assets to qualify for Medicaid. The state has a five year look-back period for which they can investigate all financial and asset transfers. If they think that you’ve sold the family home for less than it is worth or gave away valuables to qualify for Medicaid, you could in theory be charged with fraud. More often, they simply refuse to qualify you for Medicaid.
Alternatives to Setting Up Trusts
Don’t assume you have to essentially hide assets to get long-term care. For example, if you’re around 50 years old, we’d recommend signing up for long term care insurance. Long term care insurance will help pay for the cost of long-term care, whether it is assisted living, adult daycare or nursing home care. One point in favor of long-term care insurance is that you can choose where you go. This is in contrast to the limited number of nursing homes that accept Medicaid.
Consider using cash on hand to pay off any and all debts. Paying off your home’s mortgage, credit cards and home equity loans has a number of benefits. When you pay off the debts, this is considered a reasonable way to “spend down” your assets. You will reduce the number of payments that you or your spouse is obligated to pay. This has the side benefit of dramatically simplifying the settlement of your estate.
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Plan your Estate with An Inheritance Attorney In Arizona
Planning your estate is an important aspect of financial management, and an Arizona inheritance attorney can help you with that process. Our legal team can discuss strategies that will help you to reduce inheritance tax, so you can help future generations.
After you gain new assets, have another child, or get married, your financial situation will change. Our inheritance tax lawyers will be ready to assist. We can ensure that your plans meet your current requirements.
Estate Planning Attorneys in Arizona
Our Arizona inheritance attorneys are all licensed to represent clients in the state. We understand the goals of clients in Arizona, and will help you to take control of your finances.
Estate planning should be done whether you have a sizable income, or consider yourself to be of modest means. It preserves the assets that you’ve worked hard to obtain, so your children can have a better future.
Deed of Variation
Our clients sometimes inherit large sums of money, and may not need to use all of those funds. Despite this, without taking prompt action, they can pay a sizable amount of inheritance tax on that sum. A deed of variation allows you to pass that inheritance to someone else, or place it in a trust.
The money that you protect by using a deed of variation could help your children to finance their postgraduate degrees. At the same time, this helps you to decrease your inheritance tax. An inheritance lawyer near you can guide you through this process.
Create a Trust
Trusts are used to put aside money for future generations. You cannot access any of the money that you place in trust while you are alive.
The advantage is that you will not have to pay any inheritance tax on that sum. All of it will be available to your grandchildren, and the generations that follow them.
If you are married, a trust provides you with a convenient method of ensuring that your spouse will have an income after you die. Our Arizona inheritance tax attorneys can show you how you can do that, and still keep the capital for the children of the union
This legal arrangement allows you to maintain control of your capital, while providing your children with an income. A trust and inheritance tax lawyer in Arizona can help you to decide whether a trust is a good fit for your estate.
Give Money to Charity
Many residents of Arizona have a cause that is dear to them. Some support abuse shelters, while others are interested in diversity, literacy, or animal welfare. You can support the things that make society better, and simultaneously reduce your inheritance tax bill.
A bequest to a charitable organization is registered immediately for tax purposes. Your estate will benefit in the same year that the donation is made. You can also make several donations to worthy causes and maximize this effect.
Our estate planning and inheritance tax lawyers in Arizona, can answer all of your questions about charitable donations. Call us today about this, and other ways of decreasing your inheritance tax bill.
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Annuities and Asset Protection in AZ
Many residents of Arizona use annuities to safeguard their income, and our asset protection attorneys in AZ can help you to decide whether this might be the right choice for you. Annuities come in several forms, and cover different periods of time. You can select one that protects your assets through all the changes that may occur in your life.
Many people use long term investments to safeguard their wealth. They may consider factors such as the interest rate on the account, and tax benefits. However, there are other aspects to consider as you plan for the future. Our experienced legal team can help you to strategize, so you make the most of the annuity laws in Arizona.
Is Life Insurance Categorized as an Annuity?
Life insurance is one way of protecting your assets. It is considered an annuity because policy holders make regular payments to it over time. Your policy is often worth a significant sum of money.
Arizona state law protects the money that is locked into your life insurance policy. While you are alive, all of the money that you pay into the policy is safeguarded, and cannot be removed by anyone else. For example, your creditors cannot touch that money.
This benefit is only available with permanent life insurance. It is not possible to protect your assets in this way with term life insurance. A dependent family member, such as your spouse, or a sibling, must be named as a beneficiary under Arizona law.
If you die, your creditors cannot access the benefits. The payment must go to your named beneficiary. In this way, this portion of your assets will be protected even if you file for bankruptcy.
Conditions do apply, and a Chandler asset protection lawyer near you can explain these in more detail. For example, the policy must be in place for at least two years, if the restrictions on creditors are to be successfully applied.
Are All Annuities Protected by Law?
All annuity contracts are protected by law in Arizona. If you don’t want a life insurance policy, but want similar protection of your assets, you can get it with an annuity contract in Arizona.
The two year requirement that exists with life insurance also applies to other annuities. After two years, creditors cannot lay claim to the money you have paid into an annuity.
Is a 401(k) Protected by Arizona State Law?
Many residents of Arizona invest in a retirement account. The state of Arizona protects the assets that are locked into these accounts for your future, and they cannot be accessed by creditors.
The money in your TSA, IRA, or 401(k) is kept safe. Some of these assets are even protected by statute in Arizona. In addition to that, the money in any one of these retirement accounts is also protected under Federal law,
Inherited IRAs are also protected from seizure and attachment in Arizona. If you want to learn more about how all of the accounts discussed here can preserve your assets for your beneficiaries, call us today.
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Gilbert is a town which would be utterly unrecognizable today to anyone living a half a century ago. It has transformed totally in the past decades, from a small, primarily agricultural-focused town, to a large, diverse urban center. This transformation is reflective of the changes in America as a whole.
The town has grown at an extremely fast pace of over 13% annually since the 1970s. Because of this population explosion, the city is now home to over 250,000 residents. This rapid population growth has obviously come at the expense of some of the local, community sentiment found in small towns, but residents generally feel that the town has retained its unique soul and values through all the changes.
This is enshrined in the town’s motto of “clean, safe, vibrant”. Gilbert is recognized as a good place to raise a family, mostly because of its low crime rate. This is particularly impressive given the influx of ‘outsiders’ in recent years. In fact, in 2014 Gilbert was recognized as the largest town in America to record no murders that year. When this is combined with the high-quality public schooling system, and the choice and availability of local healthcare providers, it’s clear to see why more and more families are choosing to settle down in Gilbert.
Gilbert is noted by many for the high population of members from the Church of Latter Day Saints, which has led to the building of a temple in the town. However there are many other religious groupings and denominations present in the town. The town also has a vibrant nightlife, and many leisure facilities such as Desert Sky park to keep you entertained during the day.
What was once known as the ‘hay capital of the world’ for its strong agricultural ties, has become much more than that.