Estate Planning Attorney

“You can’t plan for your death after you die”

Every day 10,000 baby boomers will reach the age of 65. Having worked hard their whole life, these Americans have accumulated quite a “nest egg” for their retirement. But what happens afterwards? Leighton is a Chandler estate planning attorney with years of experience who knows that no two estates are identical. He’ll provide you with solutions that work the way you want, preparing for any situation that may arise and helping you avoid unintended consequences.

Arizona estate planning is the art of preparing for the future for yourself and your loved ones, the causes you care about, and your business interests. Successful estate planning involves far more than drafting a will and executing it—it is an ever evolving plan that changes as you and your life mature.

What is an Estate?

Simply put, an estate is the legal term for everything you own. As defined by Black’s Law Dictionary it is “The interest which any one has in real estate, or in any other subject of property”. So your estate includes everything you own or have an interest in, including: your house and other real estate, your car, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, life insurance, retirement accounts, pensions, stocks and bonds, your boat, jewelry, artwork, coin collection and anything else you own. Regardless of wealth, all adults and some children have an estate of some kind. And if you don’t have a plan for how your stuff gets to your loved ones or charity, you won’t have to worry . . . the state has a plan for that. Just not the plan you want.

Why Estate Planning?

When we pass or if disability strikes without a well-drafted estate plan, we leave our loved ones, business partners, and others unprotected and without a clear path forward. The time to start planning is now. You’ll have the serenity of peace of mind knowing your wishes will be followed.

Effective estate planning often involves numerous elements, all of which a qualified Chandler & Ahwatukee attorney could assist with. Your estate planning could include:

  • Writing or revising a last will and testament and other estate planning documents
  • Establishing trusts and drafting trust documents to protect and preserve assets
  • Estate, gift, and income tax planning
  • Charitable gifting
  • Life insurance planning
  • Business succession planning
  • Durable Power of Attorney (Financial & Health Care)
  • Living Will and Advanced Medical Directive
  • Elder Law Planning
  • Asset Protection Planning

What Happens if I Don’t Have a Plan?

The least costly part of not having a comprehensive estate plan is actually the fact that your estate will pass through intestacy. Intestacy is the term for the state’s default plan for those who die without a will.

The far more costly and nerve draining consequence of not having a plan is that your loved ones will have to petition the court to establish a guardianship and conservatorship so that they may manage your financial affairs while you are incapacitated or are suffering from mental degeneration.

And if you’re a business owner 

Is A Will Necessary For Estate Planning?

Unless you want the default estate plan provided for by the state, personal attention and expertise are crucial to crafting a well rounded estate plan which avoids all of life’s unintended consequences. An estate plan is not just a will, it includes a power of attorney, guardianship choices, medical decisions and more. An experienced estate attorney will help you make sure all of your documents work in concert with one another.

Instead of simply filling in the blanks and meeting minimum legal requirements, a hard working and experienced estate attorney will help craft a comprehensive estate plan and not just a will. Such a plan will help you avoid unintended consequences and preserve and protect your wealth and help you to achieve your financial goals.

What Is The Difference Between A Trust And A Will?

While both are able to direct who will ultimately receive your assets, a trust and a will are distinct from each other. A will is a testamentary device which directs a person on how to distribute your property upon your death. Whereas a trust is actually a fiduciary agreement between the grantor and trustee for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

A will only becomes operational upon your death. It may be revoked at any point during your life. As such, it is a much simpler document as a will only deals with how to distribute your estate upon your death and nominates guardians for your children.

When people refer to a trust as part of their estate plan, they are usually referring to a revocable living trust (contrasted against an irrevocable trust, which is permanent). This type of trust is used to avoid probate and allow easy management of one’s finances in case of incapacity. The revocable trust is created during life after which all of your assets are placed in the trust. Upon your death, the trust will direct who will receive your estate and in what manner. A revocable trust may also nominate guardians for your children in the same manner as a will does.

Let’s Make a Plan

Don’t worry, we’ve got this. We’ll guide you through every step of the process and make sure everything will be okay.

Call us today to speak with your legacy guide.

Are Estate Tax Planning and Estate Planning Interrelated?

No one wants to pay taxes. A sound estate plan includes tax planning which avoids paying unnecessary taxes today, tomorrow, and at your death. An estate planning attorney in Chandler or Ahwatukee will help you minimize the following taxes: capital gains, income, gift taxes, estate taxes, and other taxes.

Depending on each family, individual, or business needs the means of minimizing taxes and avoiding unnecessary ones could include the establishment of inter vivos trusts, charitable donations, lifetime gifting, wealth transfers to the next generation, making full use of all available tax exemptions, or other mechanisms. Tax and estate planning is not a one size fits all practice; a proper individualized plan needs to consider all circumstances including the individual’s plans and desires and the applicable state, local, and federal laws.

What Is The Cost Of An Estate Planning Attorney In Phoenix, Arizona?

The cost of an estate planning attorney in Phoenix, Arizona varies considerably depending on the complexity of the plan and the experience/knowledge of the attorney. At the low end, you may be able to find an attorney to write a very simple will for around $1,500. At the high end, a comprehensive GST and valuation reducing plan can cost tens of thousands of dollars. In the middle, a comprehensive revocable living trust plan should cost around $7,500 from an expert attorney.

An inexperienced or volume based attorney who does not specialize in trusts and tax planning typically bills at a rate of $200-$250 an hour. An expert attorney will bill at $400-$600 in 2020. 

What Type Of Estate Planning Attorney Does A Person Need?

The level of expertise you need for your estate plan depends on a few factors. Factors such as whether you have a blended family, the size of your estate, whether you need a special needs trust, whether you want creditor and divorce protection for your heirs, and whether you need tax planning.

At the very simple end, you can get a very basic will whose quality is about on par with those available from those DIY document preparers (Nolo Press, LegalZoom, etc). However, if you have a complicated family situation and/or a large estate and/or a spendthrift beneficiary, you will want an expert attorney familiar with trusts and taxes to give you legal advice and craft your plan.

Call a Chandler/Ahwatukee Estate Planning Attorney

For a focused attorney, estate planning is a process and not a static document. Once you retain one, you should expect his or her continuing guidance and advice as your circumstances, concerns and estate planning needs change.

When you hire a Chandler/Ahwatukee estate planning lawyer, his or her goal should be to assist you in achieving your personal goals while advising you about tax savings and other benefits that may be available through proper estate planning. For answers to all your questions and concerns or to engage us for estate planning services, call our law office for an initial consultation today.

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