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Arizona Estate Planning: A Step By Step Guide

Table of Contents

There are several steps that a person should take before they begin to move forward with setting up an Arizona Estate Plan. This is especially true for individuals and couples with assets that change type and character frequently, such as investments, real property and the like.

Step One: Prepare a List of Your Assets

Preparing a list of their assets, of any kind, is an important first step in the Estate Planning process. Having a good understanding of what you own is important in understanding the type of Estate Planning you need.

Another reason I have my clients prepare a list of their assets is that it will help me understand where they have invested their life's work. For most individuals, the most valuable asset is a home. For others it might be a business, income producing land or other real property, or stocks and bonds. A complete list of your assets will aid you and your attorney create a comprehensive Estate Plan that takes into account the particular type of assets you own.

Step One: Prepare a List of Your Assets

Step Two: Have a Good Idea of the Goals You Have for Your Assets Now and After You Pass Away

Next I discuss with my clients their overall goals with those assets. We need to assess possible tax ramifications, costs associated with maintaining the assets, and whether the clients would rather avoid probating those assets after they pass away. We can accomplish these goals through establishing a Living Trust, Right of Survivorship Agreements, Transfer on Death deeds, and Payable on Death Accounts.

Another key factor in determining goals for the Estate Plan is the type of flexibility you need. A Revocable Living Trust provides great amount of flexibility, while Irrevocable Trusts are less so. Determining the level of flexibility you want in maintaining, using, and receiving income from your assets, even after establishing an Estate Plan, will help you make the right decision in preparing your Estate Plan.

The Last Step is Easy: Execute Your Plan

The last step is the "easiest". Simply execute your plan. Now that you have a good idea of what you own and what your estate planning goals are, you can now move forward with creating an estate plan that is completely tailored to meet your needs. As a estate planning attorney, I can tell you firsthand that it is a much more enjoyable experience for my clients if they have a full understanding of what is happening as we go through the estate planning process. This is your estate plan, and these are your assets. You have worked your whole life to get this far. You should be able to get to say what happens to them after you pass away, and that doesn't mean you have to lose control of them now either. Educating yourself on your assets and determining your goals will help you make the right decision for you and your family in creating and managing your estate plans. After all, that is why we do this, isn't it?

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