At Cook & Cook we advise individuals, for-profit businesses, and charities as to both potential and actual legal issues in which they are or may become involved.

We handle many aspects of business and personal transactions, such as business formation (Arizona LLC, corporation, & partnership) and business dissolution, real estate and business sales and acquisitions, federal trademark registration, business succession planning (including transfer to family or sale), asset protection, Arizona probate and general estate planning (Arizona will & Arizona trust).

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Arizona Estate Planning

If you were incapacitated, who would take care of your medical and other affairs? What would you have them do? If you were dead, who would distribute and/or manage your assets? What would you have them do with your assets?

These are the questions one answers during the estate planning process. It isn't important just for those with substantial assets. Estate planning benefits everyone.

Estate planning allows you to specify the steps you'd like taken to prolong your life, to designate someone who will act on your behalf for non-health care-related matters should you become incapacitated, to specify how your assets will be distributed in the event of your death, and to provide for loved ones after your death in a supervised manner consistent with your desires.

Direct Medical Care & Other Affairs Upon Your Incapacitation

Typically, in planning for your possible incapacitation, you designate someone — called an attorney-in-fact — to act pursuant to a power of attorney. There are two types of powers of attorney that are of particular importance: durable general power of attorney, and health care power of attorney. Additionally, it's important to have a living will to express your end-of-life preferences.

A durable general power of attorney permits another person to act in your stead in regard to most matters, except for health care, in the event you are legally incapacitated. Arizona law has very clear requirements for the written document identifying an agent to act in the principal's stead.

A health care power of attorney is limited solely to health care and health care-related matters. In Arizona, you may assign one or more individuals the power to independently make health care decisions on your behalf. (You can also provide specific instructions to them.) Arizona law has very clear requirements for designating a health care power of attorney.

A living will is a directive that allows you to communicate the types of life-saving and life-sustaining efforts that you want taken on your behalf. If you have a living will, it's very likely that your attorney-in-fact pursuant to a health care power of attorney will be required to respect those preferences you've already set forth in your living will. In Arizona, a living will may exist either as its own document or as part of a health care power of attorney. There are requirements for your living will depending on whether that living will exists as part of your health care power of attorney or as its own document.

Direct Assets Upon Your Death

Among the various legal strategies through which you can plan how your assets will be administered and/or managed after your death are: will, revocable living trust, joint tenancy, beneficiary deed, and beneficiary designations.

Wills are Arizona's most basic form of estate planning and allow a person to identify the specific ways you want your assets to be distributed after you die. Upon your death, your will is generally admitted to probate, the process by which it is validated, your creditors are paid, and things are distributed according to the terms of your will. You can also nominate guardians for your children via your will.

With a revocable "living" trust, you can transfer ownership of your assets while you are alive, while also maintaining control over the assets, which allows you to avoid the probate process.

This brief overview of some important considerations associated with estate planning is by no means comprehensive. Always seek the advice of a competent professional when making important financial and legal decisions.