A Plan is Peace of Mind
Protect you and your loved ones in the event of an unexpected disability or passing.
Name the right people to make decisions and take action at critical time.
Create a smooth and easy transition after passing.
Plan today to be ready for tomorrow and the legacy you want to leave.
Estate Planning - The Foundation
A Will, or a Last Will and Testament, is a legal document where you name who will inherit your property after your passing and who is in charge of administering your estate and caring for your minor children. When you create a Will, you get to make these decisions instead of a judge or the laws of your state.
A Trust, or Revocable Living Trust is an estate planning document that states who you want to inherit your property and how. While you are alive and able, you are both the trustee (trust manager) and trust beneficiary. You will name a successor trustee to serve after you and beneficiaries to inherit trust assets. Trusts also include financial incapacity provisions and may be drafted to protect beneficiaries from creditors, predators, divorcing spouses, etc.
Health Care Directives are a set of documents stating your wishes about your health care if you become incapacitated. This includes a Health Care Power of Attorney designating one or more individuals to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated. This also includes a HIPAA Authorization allowing your doctor to share your medical information with your health care decision makers and Living Will stating your preference in end of life situations.
A Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney states who you want to manage your financial affairs like banking, insurance, businesses and real estate in the event of your incapacity.
Beneficiary designations have a huge impact on your overall estate plan. Who is listed to receive the life insurance? Or the retirement account? Do you own property jointly with anyone? Is everything up to date? Correct and up to date beneficiary designations are a critical component of every estate plan.
Advantages of an Estate Plan
- Choose a guardian for minor children
- Craft a distribution plan for assets
- Specify healthcare wishes
- Ensure the correct people are in charge
- Provide an easy transition after passing
- Plan for potential disability or incapacity
- Protect inheritance from creditors/predators
- Prevent irresponsible spending
- Avoid probate
- Plan for a disabled beneficiary
- Minimize taxes
- Consider issues unique to blended families
Frequently Asked Questions
Estate planning has two major components: what happens if you pass and what happens if you become incapacitated. This includes naming beneficiaries, people in charge of healthcare and financial decision making, people in charge of administering the estate of a deceased person, people to serve as guardian for minor children and includes some advance decisions about your healthcare.
Yes! Everyone over the age of 18 needs an estate plan. The type and contents of estate plan will depend on your unique circumstances. Even if a person is young or has limited assets, everyone needs to plan for incapacity – one in three people will become incapacitated in their lifetime. The alternative for an incapacitated person is a public and costly court proceeding for a guardianship and conservatorship.
While both a Will and Trust state who should inherit your property, a basic Will can only provide outright distributions (for beneficiaries over 18) whereas a Trust can specify how, when, and under what circumstances should assets be distributed to beneficiaries. A Trust also includes financial incapacity planning and can protect a beneficiary’s inheritance from creditors and predators. Additionally, Wills must go through probate, a public court proceeding, while Trusts can avoid probate and keep your affairs private.
Yes. Planning for a disabled beneficiary may require a Special Needs Trust to ensure that the beneficiary remains eligible for benefits like Medicaid. We may also recommend Trusts to address the unique considerations of blended families, Trusts to hold and distribute retirement assets and Trusts designed for tax planning.
Probate is a court proceeding in which the Will (or lack thereof) is administered after a person’s death. An individual called the Personal Representative (Executor in other states) is appointed to handle the administration including gathering and inventorying assets, maintaining an accounting for the estate, dealing with creditors, filing a final tax return, distributing assets to heirs, etc.
Yes! Probate CAN be avoided. A few options: 1) create a Revocable Living Trust and transfer all of your assets to your trust, so when you pass, your Trust “survives” you and distributes your assets accordingly; 2) own assets jointly with a spouse (not a child!) so when the spouse passes no probate is required to transfer assets from the deceased spouse to the surviving spouse; or 3) review and add beneficiary designations to assets – an asset with a beneficiary designation will skip probate entirely.
Planning for incapacity means the right people will be making critical decisions for you when you are unable. This includes an agent to manage and make decisions about your healthcare and an agent to manage and make decisions about your finances. These agents can be appointed in a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney.
If someone becomes incapacitated and does not have a Healthcare Power of Attorney for healthcare decision making a court determined guardian must be appointed to manage the incapacitated person’s healthcare. If the incapacitated person does not have a Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney for financial decision making, a court determined conservator must be appointed to manage the incapacitated person’s finances. Guardianships and conservatorships are time consuming and often costly proceedings. Note: creating a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney are ALWAYS cheaper than a guardianship and conservatorship!
Create a Last Will and Testament. Under Arizona law, the only place a parent may designate a guardian to care for a minor child is a Last Will and Testament. A Will is an absolute MUST for parents with minor children.
A Last Will and Testament is an estate planning document which states who should inherit your assets upon passing, who is in charge of administering your estate and who should care for minor children (if any). A Living Will is a healthcare document which states your wishes regarding medical care in end of life situations.
A Beneficiary Deed is a special type of deed that is used to transfer an owner’s interest in Arizona real property to another person or entity at death. The property owner creates a Beneficiary Deed during their lifetime which states who should inherit the property upon the owner’s passing. Upon the owner’s passing, a copy of the owner’s death certificate would be recorded which would then transfer title of the property to the beneficiary. A Beneficiary Deed can keep real estate out of probate.
Without an estate plan, you have no control as to whether beneficiary uses inheritance wisely. The best strategy to ensure an inheritance is well managed is to create a Revocable Living Trust giving a Trustee (someone you pick) authority to manage and disburse funds to the beneficiary. This protects the beneficiary from reckless or irresponsible spending, and may also be drafted to protect the beneficiary from predators, divorcing spouses and even the beneficiary’s creditors.
What's the estate planning process?
Free Consultation – What to Expect
We look forward to meeting you! We want to learn about you, your family and your goals.
We will talk about estate planning – what it is, how it works – and the best options for your unique situation.
If you’re ready to get started at the consultation we will design your custom estate plan.
Sign Your Plan
We will meet to review, discuss and sign your estate plan. We want to make sure you understand the plan and how it works.
We will give you all original documents in a binder and provide PDF copies of all signed documents.
Meet Attorney Abigail Neal
Abigail Neal is a second generation Arizona native who loves Arizona and is passionate about helping people achieve their personal and professional goals. Abby helps individuals and families plan ahead for the known and unknown, providing peace of mind that both the individual and the family are well cared for and protected in the event of an unexpected disability or passing. This includes determining who should inherit property and how, choosing a guardian for minor children, specifying healthcare wishes and picking the right people to serve in certain positions. Abby works with every client to prepare a personalized estate plan to meet the client’s unique goals and plan their legacy.
What Our Clients Are Saying
Abby is incredibly professional and knowledgable. My experience working with her was by far the best experience I've had in working with any attorney. She was patient, articulate, responsive, and was extremely fair and practical with billing. I had an excellent experience working with her, and would recommend her enthusiastically to anyone I know.
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