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What should you ask yourself before becoming an executor?

Many Arizona residents have helpful personalities. As a result, when a loved one asks them for assistance or to handle an important task, they often agree without much hesitation. However, even those with helpful attitudes need to take the time to fully review whether taking on the role of executor is right for them.

If a loved one asks you to be the executor of his or her estate, you may feel compelled to say yes. Before doing so, you may want to remember that this position requires a great deal of work, and you will need to sacrifice a considerable amount of time to see that the legal process of probate is completed successfully.

Planning for the future does not have to be a stressful process

It is impossible to predict the future, but there are certain steps you can take to minimize complications and take the mystery out of what will happen down the road. One way to do this is by estate planning. This is a smart step for Arizona readers of all income levels and financial status, but for many, this is a stressful prospect.

There are many reasons why the thought of estate planning may be overwhelming to you. You may be uncertain that you even need a plan in place, or perhaps you think that you will not be able to make decisions that will be beneficial for your loved ones down the road. It is not easy to think about what will happen after you pass, but it is best for your beneficiaries and your own peace of mind to have certain protections finalized.

Could you benefit from adding a living trust to your estate plan?

You may be ready to create an estate plan in order to provide for your loved ones after your death and protect yourself in the event you become incapacitated. You probably think that all you will need is a last will and testament and some powers of attorney. While it is true that you probably need those documents, you may want to consider a trust as well.

Are you one of many Scottsdale residents who believes that only rich people, celebrities and professional athletes need trusts? After all, they have a great deal of wealth to protect, but you don't. In reality, you could benefit from a trust. For example, if you own a home, have a retirement plan and a savings account, you may want to make use of this estate-planning tool.

Probate may need to occur in more than one state for a "snowbird"

The mild winters here in Arizona attract a lot of people during those months. Because they are escaping the winter weather, those who live here full time affectionately call them "snowbirds." Despite only living here for part of the year, many who claim residency in another state own property here.

Upon their death, probate is often a requirement in order to distribute that property to heirs and beneficiaries. One can accomplish this through a procedure called an ancillary probate.

Documents you may want to incorporate into your estate plan

Executing an estate plan is a good decision for those who wish to protect their assets and provide for their loved ones. There are no requirements for what exact documents you must include in your plan. In fact, the process of planning an estate may range from highly complex to simple. You can customize your plan to fit your own needs and ultimate goals regarding numerous issues, including your own medical care, financial decisions, special needs for a child or grandchild, property, inheritance or business issues.

There are many documents that can help you accomplish your estate planning goals. Before you plan your estate, it helps to learn more about such documents so you can choose the ones that serve the best purpose in your particular circumstances. Arizona, like all other states, has estate and probate regulations. It's always a good idea to seek clarification of any laws or rules that may affect your estate planning decisions.

How long has it been since you reviewed your estate plan?

Having an estate plan is a smart step, no matter your income level, the size of your estate or the value of the assets you have. However, simply having plans in place may not be enough to protect your interests. It is also critical to review and update plans as needed every few years. 

As Arizona readers know, one of the biggest estate planning mistakes a person can make is to fail to have an estate plan. This leads to complications for loved ones and other issues with the estate in the future. Another grave mistake is to fail to update the plan after significant life events or after several years have passed.

Sibling scrutiny can make an executor's job more difficult

As the executor of your parent's estate, you likely already know that you have a lot of work cut out for you. What may weigh heavily on your mind is the likelihood that your siblings will cause conflict during the probate proceedings. Certainly, sibling rivalry can play a considerable role in estate disputes, and you may even find yourself having to deal with litigation.

Of course, your main goal will likely be to avoid litigation if at all possible. Still, you may want to prepare yourself in case avoidance is not feasible. Understanding some reasons for conflict and ways you could work toward a smooth process as executor may prove useful to you.

Mistakes can greatly impact the probate process

Many estates go through probate after a loved one passes away. If the decedent created an estate plan, he or she likely appointed someone to take on the role of executor of the estate. This person will have the responsibility of settling the final affairs and closing the estate.

If your loved one appointed you to this position, you need to understand the role you will take on. A number of facets exist when it comes to acting as executor, and unfortunately, even a seemingly minor error on your part could cause significant consequences that could negatively impact the probate proceedings.

4 reasons for probate litigation

The passing of your loved one may have left you feeling shocked. You may have felt as if your family member was here one minute and gone the next, and that scenario can often be the case. Still, you know that even though he or she has passed away, a great many things need to happen to settle the estate's final affairs.

When it comes to probate, the chances of conflict are often considerable. Individuals may choose to challenge a will or otherwise fight about an aspect of the estate, and they will need to settle these issues before the estate can completely close. Whether you hold the position of executor and need to act on behalf of the estate or simply feel that you need to bring attention to a possible problem, estate conflicts can take time to handle.

Do you really need a lawyer to help with your estate planning?

In an age of technology and the internet where information is literally at your fingertips, you may wonder why you couldn't just look up how to do a will and get it done. After all, everyone keeps telling you that you need a will, so can't you just go onto the internet, find a form and fill it out?

Not really. Well, you could do that, but more than likely, it won't comply with Arizona law, and that could make it invalid upon your death. In addition, a will may not be enough to protect your assets or to distribute them in the way you wish to do so. Then there is the question of powers of attorney and other documents that you may need that protect you in the event you become incapacitated.

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The Law Offices of Mary T. Hone, PLLC
10505 N. 69th Street, Suite 1400
Scottsdale, AZ 85253

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