Writing A Valid Arizona Will – What Do I Need To Know?
As important documents go, your will is right up there at the top of the list. This document will be the foundation of your life care plan. It makes a difference in whether your estate is settled smoothly, with property going to the right people, and total chaos, with your estate assets held up in a probate proceeding while your family members fight it out. Yes, it’s that important. Consulting with an attorney is best, but many people like to do it themselves. The following blog gives you the information you need to write a valid Arizona Will.
Before You Write:
Understand that Arizona law controls an Arizona Will. The law is specific about who may write a will. For example, the person who is writing the Will (the testator) must be:
- be at least 18 years of age,
- be competent and of sound mind,
- be able to understand the “extent” of his or her property,
- understand who will naturally benefit from his or her death (like a spouse or child), and
- understand that the purpose of the Will is to give instructions about his property and beneficiaries.
Once you know that you meet these conditions, it’s time to start writing.
While You Write:
You can find forms online, at stationery stores, and from online sites that sell estate planning packages. No matter which method you choose, keep these things in mind:
The Will must be in writing. Usually, this means printed, but handwritten Wills are allowed in Arizona. We’ll talk more about those later.
Witnesses must watch you either sign the Will or direct someone to sign for you.
The witnesses must be competent. When a witness has an interests in the estate, this will not invalidate the Will, but it’s generally a bad idea.
Wills may be “self-proved.” This means that the witnesses and the testator sign a self-proving affidavit before a notary public. The affidavit may help the probate court validate the Will. A self-proving affidavit is not required, but it’s very helpful for your beneficiaries.
If you want to write a holographic will, make sure it complies with Arizona law:
- Will provisions that name beneficiaries and gifts must be in the testator’s handwriting. In other words, someone else could write other portions of the Will, but not the part where the testator says who gets what.
- The testator must indicate that he or she intends to dispose of their property with this handwritten Will.
- A holographic Will does not have to be witnessed. However, it’s a good idea.
Signing The Will
Also called “executing” the Will, the law requires some important things to happen.
You must sign the Will in the presence of the witnesses. If you are using a self-proving affidavit, a notary public must be present also.
You don’t have to sign your Will in an attorney’s office. In fact, you could sign at home or in the hospital, so long as you are mentally competent to understand what you’re doing.
Once a Will has been signed, you’ll need to store it in a safe place. Make sure at least one person knows that you’ve taken the important step of making a Will and where you have stored it. Sometimes, the best person to tell is the executor.
Set Up Your Plans Today
Making sure your Will covers all the bases is not easy. Except for the simplest estate, it’s best to have an attorney prepare your estate planning documents.
The attorneys at the Keystone Law Firm assist clients every day set up customized estate planning. Call us at (480) 418-8448 to set up an appointment. We offer services for clients throughout Arizona, including Chandler, Gilbert, Sun Lakes, Tempe, Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Apache Junction.