Wills and Living Wills

questions & answers

Question: My husband has already passed away and we have 1 adult daughter. I do not have a lot of money & cannot afford an attorney. My estate will be worth less than $15,000. How do I give my daughter authority to dispose of my possessions?

Answer:

On any asset which currently reflects your name, such as a vehicle or real property, you can add your daughter’s name as co-owner with “right of survivorship”.  A bank account can be changed to a POD “payable on death” provision, which automatically gives your daughter the balance of the account.

You can also use a “Revocable Living Trust” which is somewhat similar to a Last Will except it does NOT go through the probate court and automatically transfer the assets (Specified) to the beneficiary (Specified) You can change or revoke the trust at any time that you have capacity. Normally, people rely on an attorney to correctly prepare this legal document, but in Arizona you can also use the services of a “Certified Legal Document Preparer”, although he/she cannot provide legal advice regarding your Living Trust.

 

If a person dies without any such pre-arrangements, and the value of the estate is low, a “small estate” procedure is available which avoids Probate Court intervention.  In Arizona, there is a "small estate" court procedure available, which avoids probate and expedites estate distribution, if certain requirements are met. A.R.S. § 14-3971. You can obtain the court forms online or the county Superior Court can provide the proper forms such as an Affidavit of Succession to Real Property. The major requirements for the small estate process, which can be used without an attorney, are that:

·       the claimant be related to the decedent or have a legal interest in the decedent’s property,

·       the value of decedent's Arizona real property (market value minus loans) is $100,000 or less, and the value of other assets is $75,000 or less (as of 2015) and,

·       the applicable post-death waiting periods have passed (minimum 30 days; 6 months if real property involved).

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QUESTIONS

  • My husband has already passed away and we have 1 adult daughter. I do not have a lot of money & cannot afford an attorney. My estate will be worth less than $15,000. How do I give my daughter authority to dispose of my possessions?

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  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
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    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
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