Most people have heard of a will — and even the wordier phrase, last will and testament. But many of the clients we work with don’t know a will’s purpose. They’re not sure what a will does (or doesn’t do) for them. Also, they wonder if getting a will in place is the same thing as having an estate plan.
Here on the Fleming & Monroe blog, we’ve talked about wills and trusts before. Here’s a quick recap, or you can read a more detailed explanation here):
- A will goes into effect upon a person’s death.
- Wills specify who will receive the decedent’s property.
- In a will, you can name a personal representative to carry out your wishes.
- A will covers all property in your name at the time of death.
- Wills must pass through probate.
- With a will, there’s less privacy because it becomes public record during the probate process.
- In a will, you can designate a guardian for minor children.
- Wills can be changed at any time before death.
Without a will, the court determines how your property will be distributed, who cares for any minor children — and even what happens to your pets.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wills
What is a will? A will is a document that provides you with the opportunity to distribute your property, establish care for your children and otherwise express your wishes upon your death.
Is a will the same thing as a last will and testament? Yes, the actual name of the document is Last Will and Testament. (“Will” is its nickname!)
What happens if you or a loved one dies without a will? Without a will, the court determines how your property will be distributed, who cares for any minor children — and even what happens to your pets.
Is a living will the same as a will? A living will is different than a will, and both are typically included in a full estate plane. Think of a living will as a written statement that outlines your desires regarding medical treatment if you become incapacitated and can no longer dictate your medical care. When you create a living will, you state your decisions while you are of sound mind — that is, you have the mental capacity to be able to provide instructions to a hospital or caregiver.
Is a will the same thing as an estate plan? No, but a will is one element of an estate plan. While a will is a useful document, Jacob Fleming and Bob Monroe offer additional services, including wills, to our Arizona clients. This full planning and preparation process helps individuals build a safety net to preserve their legacy and their family.
Our services include:
- Estate Planning
- Last Will and Testament (a.k.a. a will)
- Trusts (we explain the role of trusts here)
- Durable Financial Power of Attorney
- Living Will (discussed earlier in this article)
- Medical Power of Attorney
What can a will not do for you? A will cannot dictate how non-probate transfers, such as a life insurance policy or a payable-upon-death designation, should be distributed. There are other protections a will does not offer, and there other estate planning options could better suited to cover particular situations. When you meet with us, we will explain the various legal documents that would be most appropriate for your personal situation.
Are wills expensive? One of the hallmarks of working with Fleming & Monroe is that we have a variety of estate planning packages for people to choose from, which we can cover during our first call with you.
What’s the First Step in Getting a Will?
The first thing that our new clients do is book a free, 30-minute call with us where we can learn more about your needs. After the initial meeting, you can decide on the next step which we hope will be letting us help you with a will or a full estate plan!
Ready to take the first step? Contact Jacob and Bob, your Southeast Valley neighborhood lawyers with a personal touch, today for your complimentary appointment.