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Why do I need a Will?

Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Despite the certainty of death, we often avoid taking steps to make things easier for those left behind. It’s as if we believe the preparation for the inevitable may shorten our life span, and preparation also unpleasantly forces us to acknowledge our own mortality.

Recently a younger person asked why someone who is young might need a Will since he or she doesn’t have much “stuff” to pass on. A Will can be used to name a guardian and conservator for minor children in the event that both parents pass away. A guardian is the person who takes care of the child. A conservator manages any property owned by the child. You may name one or more persons to perform these functions.

By discussing this with the proposed guardian/conservator and naming that person in the Will, a parent gives their child security if the parent tragically dies. A guardian/conservator named in a Will is the court’s first choice. Parents can avoid family conflicts over who will care for their children by naming a guardian/conservator in their Wills. Naming the guardian/conservator in the Will does not avoid the court proceeding to establish a guardian, but it gives the court direction on whom to appoint.

A Will is most commonly used to give specific gifts of property to individuals. For example, it can be used to give great grandmother’s china to Susie. It can also be used to establish a Trust for minor children, although depending upon circumstances another method might be preferred. It can even give heartfelt expressions of love to those left behind. It can give property held in Trust to another if the Trust grants this authority (called “Powers of Appointment”).

If real estate or financial accounts are given by Will, an Arizona probate will be required to transfer these types of property. If you want to avoid probate, a Will is not the way to transfer these types of property.

A Will is a document that is done for an individual. A married couple may have the same wishes; however, each person must have a separate Will. You must choose someone to carry out your wishes as stated in the Will. Some states call this person the “Executor.” In Arizona, we call this person the “Personal Representative.”

To help your loved ones in the event you pass away, you might consider keeping a list of financial accounts and other important information (Will, deeds, powers of attorney, health insurance, life insurance) in one location and tell them where to find it. In the midst of grief, it is much more difficult when kinfolk cannot find the information they need. Death is certain, but preparation now can ease the difficulty for those left behind.



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Please Note: We are NOT attorneys and do NOT provide legal advice. Your information is confidential, but we do not have attorney-client privilege. If you need legal advice, you will be referred to an attorney.

Arlene Rheinfelder, EA, CP AZCLDP

"I help solve people's problems. There is nothing more rewarding than helping someone through a difficult situation, and helping them to find a good resolution." 


Melissa Hill, AZCLDP

I love the challenge of finding a way to help each person's unique situation. It is never the same because each person is different with their own needs and wants.

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