If you are going to die —and we all are—you might as well do it right. If you die without having made a will, who gets what is left entirely up to your state’s intestacy laws to decide. If you don’t know what that means or what the effect of the intestacy laws would be in your case, then it is even more important that you make a will.
Probably Not What You Wanted.
The intestacy laws are the state’s fall-back position for what to do with a person’s estate if they die without a will. The intestacy laws have no sentimentality and they do not take into consideration who is more deserving of your property, who needs it most, or who was good to you during your lifetime. Instead, they simply look at the legal relationship between you and your closest living relatives.
In other words, if you lived with a loving companion for years and years but you did not marry that person and your only living relative is a brother you despised, if you die without a will, all your property will go to your brother. The intestacy laws look at blood and legal relationships only to determine who inherits your money.
In Arizona, if you are married and you die intestate (without a will) what your spouse will get depends in part on whether the property is considered “separate property” or “community property” under Arizona’s community property laws.
This means that your surviving spouse will automatically inherit your half of all community (not separate) property if you have no descendants. Or, if you do have descendants — children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren – resulting only from your relationship with your surviving spouse, then your surviving spouse will get your half of all community property.
If, however, you have descendants (children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren) from another relationship, your current spouse get your half of the community property only if you both hold that property as “community property with the right of survivorship.” Otherwise, your half of the community property will go to your descendants.
Leaving the distribution of your property up to the intestacy laws will probably result in your property going to people you do not want it to go to and not going to the loved ones you do want it to go to.
So why take chances? Get an estate plan put in place right away.
Estate Planning is Necessary and Affordable.
At Esser, Bradley and Khalsa, our estate planning attorneys will work with you during a FREE consultation to discuss your specific needs. We are experienced trusts and estates counsel with offices in beautiful Sedona, but we serve all of Arizona. Call us at 928-282-1483, connect with us on Facebook today to set up your free appointment.