What is a will?
A will is a document that directs how your estate shall be distributed upon your death. Any adult of sound mind is entitled to make a will. In Arizona, a will should expressly state that it’s your will, should be signed (and dated) by you, and should be signed by two witnesses who won’t inherit anything under the will. Although not required, you and your witnesses should sign an affidavit (sworn statement) before a notary public. A notarized will is a “self-proving” will and avoids the need to prove the validity of the will in court. Handwritten wills, called “holographic” wills, are legal in Arizona. To be valid, a holographic will must be written, dated and signed in the handwriting of the person making the will. However, because their validity must be proven in court, holographic wills should be avoided under most circumstances.
What are medical and financial powers of attorney? What’s a living will?
If you became incapacitated, who would make arrangements for your medical care and see that your wishes for treatment are carried out? Who would act on your behalf to pay bills, make bank deposits, watch over investments and deal with the paperwork that accompanies collecting insurance and government benefits? Preparing a few simple documents — a medical power of attorney and a durable power of attorney for finances — can ease these worries by ensuring that your affairs will stay in the hands of people that you trust. You name an “agent” to act on your behalf — but only upon your disability — and only if you need it. A living will states your intent regarding life support — whether to withhold it or not — and defines what medical procedures you may or may not desire. These documents will usually also help you avoid a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding.