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DIY Estate Plan - What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Oftentimes, we run across people in online forums who encourage others who are considering estate planning to “Just do it yourself!” While that is an option, it frequently leaves the Testator/Settlor (the person who created their own Will/Trust) unknowingly exposed to unnecessary and preventable risks. Unfortunately, by the time the errors are recognized, the Testator is usually deceased, leaving their loved ones in a dreadful position. Put simply, if an estate plan is not set up correctly, it isn’t worth the piece of paper it’s written on.

In Arizona, the basic requirements of a written Last Will & Testament include the following:

  • The Will must be in writing.

  • The Will must be signed by the Testator or in the Testator's name by some other individual in the Testator's conscious presence and by the Testator's direction.

  • The Will must be signed by at least two people, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after that person witnessed either the signing of the Will or the Testator's acknowledgment of that signature or acknowledgment of the will.

  • The Testator must be at least 18 years old.

  • The Testator must be of sound mind.

And the basic requirements of a Revocable Living Trust in Arizona include:

  • The Settlor (the person creating the Trust) has capacity to create a trust.

  • The Settlor indicates an intention to create the Trust.

  • The Trust has a definite beneficiary or is a charitable Trust, a trust for the care of an animal, or a Trust for a non-charitable purpose.

  • The Trustee has duties to perform.

  • The Sole Trustee and the Sole Beneficiary are not the same person.

  • The Trust is not created or induced by fraud, duress, or undue influence.

In addition to these basic requirements, there are many things an experienced estate planner or legal professional will know to include in your Will/Trust that you likely will not think to consider. For example:

  • Is there anyone in your family that you want to specifically disinherit?

  • Who will care for your minor children if you pass away?

  • Will your creditors be able to reach your beneficiary’s inheritance by attachment of distributions?

  • What will happen if there are not enough funds in your estate to carry out your final wishes?

  • Will your successor trustee be compensated?

  • Is your Trust properly funded, or do you have assets that are exposed to potential litigation?

  • What will happen in the event you become incapacitated? Will you regain control of your estate if you are no longer incapacitated?

  • If you move, is your estate plan still valid?

  • Can you revoke or amend your estate plan if something changes?

Working with an experienced estate planner and/or legal professional provides reassurance that specific, important details are not unintentionally omitted from your estate plan. The professionals at Glover Court Solutions have a combined experience of more than 25 years. We specialize in preparing top-notch Estate Plans and ultimately keeping families out of probate court.

If you would like to discuss affordable estate planning options, contact your friends at Glover Court Solutions.

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