Phoenix & Mesa Estate Planning Attorneys
At Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb, we have over 27 years of experience in estate planning and probate law. Based out of Phoenix, AZ, our law firm serves Maricopa County and the surrounding areas.
Wills and Trusts
Estate planning can be a complicated process which involves many different legal strategies. Wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, health care documentation, and asset protection are just a few procedures involved when planning an estate. It is not uncommon for new clients to think they don’t need an estate plan. However, in Arizona, there are many valuable assets that are not covered through your will. Your will covers anything that you own outright as your own property. Any assets in your will are covered by Arizona’s intestate succession laws, which dictate how these assets are divided after your death.
Some assets that are not covered by your will are:
- Property that has been transferred into a living trust
- Money from life insurance
- IRA, 401(k), and other retirement accounts
- Bank accounts that are payable after death
- Real estate held by a beneficiary
- Jointly owned property and vehicles
These assets are not affected by Arizona Intestate succession laws, and they will automatically pass on to the surviving co-owner or beneficiary. To avoid probate, you will have to address these types of assets with a living trust. A trust is similar to a will in that you designate a beneficiary, but the difference lies in the transference of property; you must transfer the property to yourself as the current trustee before you die. After death, the second trustee will then take over ownership. Unlike a will, a living trust has legal authority while you’re alive.
Trusts can get very complicated very quickly as they serve a variety of purposes. Some trusts may be for tax-related purposes, and others may be for personal investments. An expertly drafted trust can protect property from creditors and even result in tax advantages for the beneficiary, which is why it is crucial to use an attorney experienced in estate planning.
Power of attorney
A Power of Attorney essentially gives your attorney-in-fact, the person outlined in the document, the legal power to act on your behalf. Though it depends on the document itself, typically the POA will allow the attorney to make health decisions, real estate decisions, motor vehicle sales, and even take child custody. In Arizona, there are several types of POAs, each dictating a different type of authority.
For example, a general POA may allow the attorney-in-fact to make medical, legal, and financial decisions, while a special (or limited) POA will limit which types of decisions can be made. As you can imagine, legal documentation can get overwhelming, so it’s important to consult with experienced legal counsel who understand Arizona POA laws.
The attorneys at Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb fight to keep your assets protected from creditors. Using an expertly implemented strategy, we legally and ethically protect your valuable assets from falling prey to creditor claims. The goal in protecting your assets is to do so legally, without using concealment or tax evasion. Asset protection in a preemptive process which will keep you protected in the event of a future liability suit or debt.
In addition to providing wills, trusts, POA, and asset protection services, Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb are also experts in family and business law. We have been serving Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding communities since 1985 and we pride ourselves on providing exceptional representation across several law specialties. We treat each and every one of our clients with respect and care, developing personalized strategies after listening to your individual needs. Please contact us today to speak with one of our respected attorneys.