Estate Planning & Probate

Estate Planning

If you are like most Arizona and Texas residents, you do not want to think about your own mortality.  This is why many individuals put off creating a basic estate plan in favor of more immediate concerns. Our goal is to educate you to help you understand the benefits of the estate planning process. Establishing an estate plan not only protects yourself but your loved ones as well. By having a well-drafted estate plan in place a person is able to have his or her assets distributed according to their wishes after they pass, and at the least cost.  

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy or the elderly. Regardless of the size of the estate, everyone needs to have a plan to preserve and protect their wealth. Your estate plan may be a very simple plan involving the use of basic documents or it may be extremely complex.  Putting yourself in control of how your assets are divided up after you die is something that you should do in order to save your family excessive taxes, legal fees, potential lawsuits and family fights.  You have worked long and hard for the assets that you have accumulated.  Now, you want to protect your property and assets and the interests of your beneficiaries through proper planning.

Estate planning is the preservation and the distribution of your assets in accordance with your personal and family goals, both during your life and upon your death. Also, one of the primary goals of estate planning is easing of the management of your financial and legal affairs. When we use the term “estate,” we mean all assets of any value owned by you at the time of your death, including real estate, business interests, stocks and other securities, life insurance proceeds, bank accounts, and personal property such as automobiles, jewelry, collections and personal items.  When we talk about an “estate plan,” we refer to the means by which your estate is passed on to your loved ones on your death.  

The type of estate plan or strategy that is appropriate for you should start with a comprehensive analysis of your family, health and financial situation by a qualified legal professional. We will listen to your questions and concerns and walk you through the Arizona estate planning process. Through the use of Living Trusts, Wills, Powers of Attorney (financial and health care), Living Wills, Irrevocable Trusts, our firm helps Arizona and Texas families preserve their wealth for future generations, and avoid the expense and ordeal of probate.

Creating an estate plan does not need to be intimidating; in fact, it could provide you with a great sense of security because you know that your family will be secure and your assets will be distributed as you wish. Remember, if you do not have a plan, the state government has a plan for you, and you may not like it!

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to make sure that your estate planning wishes are met after you have passed.

Probate Administration

The term “probate” refers to the process by which a person’s estate is administered after they die.  This includes locating assets, paying debts, and distributing property to heirs. How smooth the probate process runs depends on the heirs’ behavior.  If the heirs are in agreement with the distribution of assets, the process can be concluded in a relatively short period of time. If the disputes arise, the probate process can quickly become lengthy, frustrating and costly.  A probate lawyer will walk you through the process of administering an estate after the death of a loved one, making sure that all legal paperwork is filed correctly and in a timely fashion, represent your interests in probate court, and answer any questions about the probate process.

Probate Litigation

Disputes over wills and trusts are unfortunately not common. These include litigation over contested wills, breach of fiduciary duty, charges of administrative malfeasance, accusations of coercion, undue influence and disputes between heirs. Many times probate disputes over an inheritance can be just as bitter as a divorce. A probate litigation lawyer can help with contesting or defending wills, determining heirship when a person dies without a will, contesting appointment of an unqualified person to serve as the personal representative or executor of the estate, helping trust beneficiaries pursue legal action against a negligent or dishonest trustee, and other issues involving probate courts in Arizona and Texas.

Guardianship and Conservatorship

If an adult becomes incapacitated or when a minor has lost his or her parents, it may be necessary to take legal steps to help protect their best interests, both physically and financially, by appointing a guardian and/or conservator. A guardian/conservator is another person, frequently a relative, who is given legal authority to care for and make decisions regarding the incapacitated or minor person.  No matter what the circumstances, we can draft guardianship conservatorship documents and will provide you with guidance in this legal process.