What If I don't have an Estate Plan?

What If I don't have an Estate Plan?

By: Brian G. Winter, Esq.

BWinterWhen a person dies and has an estate plan, they have what is called a testate estate. A testate estate is when a person has a Will which sets forth who will be in charge of administering an estate and who is entitled to receive the assets of the estate.

When a person dies without a will or other estate planning documents, then they have an intestate estate. In other words, they did not leave valid instructions on how their estate is to be managed and distributed.

Arizona, as is the case with all states, has a set of statutes which determine how a person’s assets are to be distributed in the absence of a valid will or other estate planning documents. These statutes provide for who is to be an heir of the estate and what percentage of the estate they are to receive.

Rest assured, even if you do not have an estate plan, your property will be distributed to your legal heirs as determined by their degree of kinship. The problem in not having an estate plan is that you have taken away your ability to determine who shall share in your estate. In other words, your estate may not be distributed how you would have intended. For example, if you have a significant other and are not married, or have a step child that you would have provided for, they cannot legally share in your estate. Conversely, even if you have not spoken to a family member for years and had no wish to provide them with anything upon your death, they may still be entitled to receive a distribution from your estate by virtue of being an applicable blood relation to you.

An intestacy estate must go through probate. The court will oversee and administer the division of your estate assets so that legal title to the assets will be transferred to your heirs The court will appoint a Personal Representative to collect the estate assets, pay valid claims against the estate, determine the heirs and distribute the estate assets.

It is important to have make sure that your assets are distributed to your heirs in accordance with your wishes. For this to happen, you must have an estate plan.

If you would like to work with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call OWENS & PERKINS at (480) 630-2464 to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.

Categories: Estate Planning, Blog

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