The biggest myth surrounding estate planning involves Wills. We regularly hear this statement (or some variation of it): “I have a Will, so my family won’t have to go through probate.” Sadly, nothing could be farther from the truth. A Will FORCES probate. A Will is merely instructions to the court of what you want after you pass away. If the only planning you’ve done is via a Will, you are almost guaranteeing your loved ones will have to go through probate court, or at least some kind of informal probate process.
A Will typically does four things:
- Distributes assets to chosen heirs.
- Names guardians for minor children. In Arizona, the only legal document where you can name a guardian is your will. For many parents, this is the most important decision of their entire estate plan.
- Names a Personal Representative (also known as an executor in many states) to handle the administration of your probate estate (paying taxes, paying creditors, and distributions to heirs).
- Forces probate proceedings.