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Estate Planning in Arizona

If you live in Arizona, there are some specific estate planning issues that you need to be aware of. Here are some of the key things to keep in mind:

Your Will

In Arizona, a will must be in writing and signed by the testator (the person making the will). It must also be witnessed by two people who are not related to the testator.

Naming Guardians for Minor Children

The best way to ensure that your children will be cared for according to your wishes is to name guardians in your will. By specifically naming guardians, you can have peace of mind knowing that your children will be raised according to your values and preferences. In addition, naming guardians in your will helps to avoid any potential conflicts among family members about who should care for your children. If you have minor children, be sure to put a plan in place by naming guardians in your will.


Trusts can be a useful tool for estate planning in Arizona. There are many different types of trusts, so it's important to talk to an experienced attorney to find out which one is right for your situation.

The Revocable Living Trust (RLT)

A revocable living trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to manage your assets during your lifetime and disperse them according to your wishes after your death. With a revocable living trust, you maintain control of your assets while you're alive. You can revoke or modify the trust at any time, and you can also change the beneficiaries. When you die, the trust becomes irrevocable and the assets are distributed according to your instructions.

There are many benefits of setting up a revocable living trust, including avoiding probate, protecting your privacy, and making it easier for your loved ones to manage your affairs after you're gone. If you have a revocable living trust in place, your family won't have to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of probate. Your instructions for dispersing your assets will be followed without delay, and your family will be able to avoid fights over who gets what. In addition, revocable living trusts are private documents, so your affairs will remain confidential.

If you're considering setting up a revocable living trust, it's important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you determine whether it's the right option for you and your family.

Arizona Probate

Probate is a court-supervised process for distributing a deceased person's assets to their heirs. In Arizona, probate is typically handled by the Superior Court in the county where the deceased person resided. If an estate is required to go through probate, the court will appoint a personal representative to oversee the process. The personal representative is responsible for gathering the deceased person's assets, paying any debts and expenses, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs.

Arizona Small Estate Administration

In Arizona, there is a small estate administration process that may allow you to avoid probate altogether. To be eligible, the deceased person's assets must have a total value of less than $75,000. This includes property such as real estate, vehicles, and personal belongings. If the deceased person's assets are worth more than $75,000, their estate will need to go through probate. If you are eligible for a small estate administration, you will still need to file paperwork with the court.

Arizona Informal Probate / Formal Probate

In Arizona, there are three ways to probate an estate -- informal, formal and supervised. The informal probate process is the simplest and most affordable. To be eligible for an informal probate, there must be a valid, uncontested will and the probate must be opened within two years of the date of death. A formal probate may be required if there is no will, or if there is a will challenge, disagreement over the appointment of a personal representative, or other estate dispute. A supervised probate may be requested if necessary to protect creditors, heirs, or other interested parties.

Avoiding Probate in Arizona

There are a few ways to avoid probate in Arizona. One of the best options is to create a revocable living trust. With a revocable living trust, the settlor (the person who creates the trust) can transfer ownership of their assets to the trust. The settlor can also name themselves as the trustee, which means that they retain control over the assets during their lifetime. After the settlor passes away, the successor trustee will distribute the assets according to the terms of the trust.

Incapacity Planning: Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a legal document that grants another person the authority to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. This can be helpful if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions for yourself.

If you do not have a durable power of attorney in place and become incapacitated, your family or loved ones will need to go through the probate court system to gain legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. This can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful.

Estate Planning for Businesses

Estate planning is important for business owners for a variety of reasons. First, estate planning can help to ensure that your business will continue to operate in the event of your death or incapacity. By putting a succession plan in place, you can ensure that your family and employees will be taken care of, and that your business will continue to thrive.

In addition, estate planning can help to minimize taxes and expenses associated with the transfer of your business. Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for many years, estate planning is an essential part of protecting your assets and ensuring the future success of your business.

Estate Taxes

The estate tax, sometimes called the death tax, is a federal tax that applies to the transfer of property at death. The estate tax is levied on the value of the decedent's estate, less any allowable deductions. Property that is subject to estate tax includes real estate, stocks, bonds, jewelry, and other personal property. Business interests and life insurance policies are also subject to estate tax.

For 2023, the federal estate tax exemption for individuals is $12.92 million. With proper tax planning, a married couple can shelter twice that amount, or $25.84 million.

Arizona Estate Taxes

Fortunately for Arizona residents, there is no additional Arizona estate tax.

We can help you navigate Arizona's. complex estate planning landscape and make sure that your assets are protected.

Contact us today.

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Larson Law Office

4140 E. Baseline Road
Suite 101
Mesa, AZ 85206

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Larson Law Office

4140 E. Baseline Road
Suite 101
Mesa, AZ 85206

Get Directions
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