Arizona Will Instructions
Simple, clear instructions showing you how to fill out your Arizona will.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Wills
Can Make A Will?
Does The Will Do?
Are The Advantages Of Making A Will?
I Need A Lawyer?
I Create A Trust In My Will?
Happens After I Make My Will?
Can I Change My Will?
Can I Revoke My Will?
I Disinherit My Spouse Or One Or More Of My Children?
Some Questions Regarding Terms Used in a Will
Is A Testator And A Testatrix?
Is A Personal Representative?
Is A Beneficiary?
Is A Guardian For A Child?
Is A Conservator For A Child?
How To Use the Will Forms
Other Sample Provisions
Give All Your Estate To One Person
Give All Your Estate To Two Or More People In Equal Shares
Give One Or More Items To One Person And The Remainder To Another
Disinherit An Adult Child
Sample Completed Will
The Will Pages And Executing The Will
For your own and your family's protection, you should have a Will. Every adult should. Your
Will should be up-to-date, suited to your situation and one that will take care of your family
and loved ones in the event of your death.
In many instances, you can prepare the Will yourself with the help of these instructions and
forms. In other cases, you may need the help of an attorney. In any event, you
owe it to your family, your loved ones and yourself, to have a current, valid Will which will
protect your family and provide for them in the event you are not around to protect them yourself.
Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions About Wills
Who Can Make A Will?
Anyone who is of sound mind and at least eighteen (18) years old can make a Will
in Arizona. Under Arizona law, the Will should be acknowledged before two witnesses and
signed by the maker and the witnesses. Family members or persons mentioned in the Will
can qualify as witnesses so long as they are generally competent to act as a witness. It
is advisable, however, to have the Will witnessed by people who are disinterested in it.
What Does The Will Do?
A Will directs how and to whom your property shall be distributed after your death. A
valid and effective Will distributes what you own as you see fit through a person you choose. This
person is called the "personal representative." Some property, however, is not controlled
by a Will. For example, property you may hold in joint tenancy with others, community property
with right of survivorship, life insurance payable to named beneficiaries, and trusts you may
have created with a future interest in others will not pass by your Will. If you have questions
about property that may not be governed by your Will, you should consult an attorney.
What Are The Advantages Of Making
A Will allows you to distribute your property to those you want to have it. It
allows you to appoint a person to see that your wishes are carried out, appoint a conservator
and guardian for your surviving children if necessary, and provide cash to your family for expenses.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
Many people do not. Of course, if you and your spouse have an estate valued
at $300,000.00 or more, or if you are not married and have an estate valued at $150,000.00 or
more, you may have complicated problems which a lawyer should guide you through. You may
have other complications requiring a lawyer, such as an impending divorce, the existence of an
antenuptial agreement (a contract between persons before they marry), prospects of a large inheritance,
or property you may want to dispose of during your lifetime. In any of these circumstances,
consult and attorney for guidance in preparing your Will. For most of the rest of us, a
Will can be prepared easily and quickly, without an attorney.
Can I Create A Trust In My Will?
Trusts for a spouse, children or others can be created in a Will. There are
many different kinds of trusts, however, with various legal, tax and cost considerations. For
that reason, you should consult an attorney if you want to provide for a trust in your Will. The
Will forms in this website do have provisions for the appointment of a Conservator for your minor
children. See the section about Conservators,
What Happens After I Make My Will?
After you have prepared your Will, you may want to make photocopies of it for your
beneficiaries or personal representative. On each page of a copy, you should print the
word "COPY" in bold letters. NOTE: Only the original of your Will is
valid. Copies are used only for reference during your lifetime.
You must take steps now to insure your original Will is available to your beneficiaries upon
your death. Keep it in a safe place. It is a good idea to review it at least once
a year to see if it should be revised because of changed circumstances in your life. Some
type of legal proceeding may be necessary to process your Will after your death. "Probate" is
a word that technically refers to "proof" that your Will is in fact the valid expression of
what you want done with your property. "Administration" refers to the process by which
your personal representative is appointed by the court to collect all the property subject
to the Will, pay your debts and your family's immediate expenses and distribute the remaining
assets in the manner described in your Will.
A Will may be challenged in court, but a legal attack on a Will usually turns on whether the
formalities of Will-making were observed or not. By following the steps outlined in this
website, all the formalities are observed and your Will is not likely to be overturned on those
How Can I Change My Will?
There is a method by which only certain provisions of an existing Will can be changed,
without changing the other provisions. A Codicil is used to do this. However,
it is more difficult (and risky) to attempt this than to simply execute a new Will. If
you want to make any changes in your Will after it is executed, make a new Will. NEVER attempt
to erase or alter an existing Will!
How Can I Revoke My Will?
Generally, when someone wants to revoke a Will, he or she wants to execute a new
one immediately. In Arizona, the execution of a new Will automatically revokes all prior
Wills you have made. However, it is always best to destroy the old Will. In any event,
destruction of a Will revokes it.
Can I Disinherit
My Spouse Or One Or More Of My Children?
Arizona law gives some protection to a surviving spouse and minor children
against disinheritance. It is not possible to entirely disinherit these
people. If, however, you make a Will and leave all your estate to other people or organizations,
your spouse and minor children may receive only the minimum amounts guaranteed by law. NOTE:
One-half (½) of your community property (which is not subject to right of survivorship)
belongs to your spouse and you cannot dispose of that portion by your Will. Similarly,
joint tenancy property automatically belongs to the surviving joint tenant or tenants upon the
death of the first joint tenant. These matters are rather complicated, and if you have
questions about them, you should see a lawyer.
It is possible to completely disinherit an adult child (one who is age eighteen (18) or older). A
sample provision for doing this can be found later in these instructions.
Some Questions Regarding Terms Used in a Will
What Is A Testator And A Testatrix?
A man who makes a Will is called a "testator;" a woman is
called a "testatrix." If you are using these forms to make your Will, the references in
the forms to "testator" or "testatrix" will refer to you.
What Is A Personal Representative?
"Personal Representative" is the title given to the person whom you designate to
see that your wishes - expressed in your Will - are carried out after your death. Under
earlier Arizona law this person was called an "executor" or "executrix." Your Personal
Representative must be over the age of eighteen (18). Many people choose to have their
spouse be the first choice for Personal Representative. You might also designate your bank
or a trust company to serve in this capacity, but unless your estate is quite large, that probably
would not be advantageous to either of you.
What Is A Beneficiary?
A "beneficiary" is one who is designated by you in your Will to receive some or
all of your assets after your death.
What Is A Guardian For A Child?
A "guardian" is the person nominated by you in your Will to assume the custody of
your minor child(ren) in the event of your death. Generally, this is a member of the family
or a close personal friend. If a natural or adoptive parent survives, it is not necessary
to nominate him or her as guardian. If he or she is not unfit to assume custody, this appointment
will happen automatically. A guardian must be eighteen (18) years of age or older.
What Is A Conservator For A Child?
A "conservator" is one who manages the estate of a minor child. He or she
acts as a trustee with regard to any property you may leave to a minor. As with guardians,
conservators are often family members or close personal friends. Frequently, married couples
will want to designate each other as the first choice for conservator. Your conservator
can be the same person who is nominated as guardian, or you can separate these roles if you wish. A
conservator must be at least eighteen (18) years old.
How to Use the Will Forms
This website contains two different Will forms, one of which you will not use. After
you have made the appropriate selection for you, disregard the other form.
If you are married and have children, you may want to leave all your estate to your surviving
spouse. If your spouse dies before you, you may want to leave everything to your children
in equal shares. You may also want to nominate a personal representative , and, if you
have minor children, you may want to nominate a guardian and a conservator. The "Standard
Will" form in this section can be used by couples who wish this distribution of their
If you are not married, or if you do not have children, or if you want your property distributed
at your death in some manner other than as described in the preceding paragraph, then you will
use the "Non-Standard Will" form.
The Standard Will
In addition to the features mentioned above, the Standard Will does two things which
you should be aware of. In paragraph "FOUR", the Standard Will makes provisions for your grandchild(ren)
in the event that one or more of your children dies while either you or your spouse is still
alive. Such grandchild(ren) would receive the share of your estate that would have gone
to that child(ren)'s parent. The best way to illustrate this is with a diagram. Let's assume
the two of you are "Husband and Wife" in the diagram below, and you had three children, represented
by the letters "A", "B", and "C". While at least one of you was still living, your child "C" died,
leaving two children whom we will call "X" and "Y".
Using the Standard Will form in this section, upon the death of the last spouse (Husband or
Wife), child "A" and "B" would each receive one-third (1/3) of the estate and grandchildren "X" and "Y" would
each receive one-sixth (1/6). In other words, "X" and "Y" would share equally the portion
of the estate that would have gone to their parent, "C". If you do not want this to occur,
the Standard Will is not for you.
The second feature of the Standard Will which you should be aware of is the provision in paragraph "TWO" regarding
the list of "items of tangible personal property." This provision permits you to leave
particular items of your personal property to the people designated on the list to receive
them. This is very useful because you can change the list from time to time without making
a new Will. Your list should always be typed or printed in ink, dated, and signed by
you. You may keep it with the original of your Will. Be sure to destroy the old
list when making a new one.
NOTE: Do not use this list to dispose of real estate, money, promissory notes,
contracts, securities, titles to things or property, or property used in a trade or business. This
list is intended only for items of personal property, such as jewelry, china, furniture, collectibles,
The Non-Standard Will
Most of the provisions in the "Non-Standard Will" are identical to provisions in
the Standard Will. However, the most important part of the Non-Standard Will is different
- the paragraph which describes the distribution of your property after your death. It
is blank on the Non-Standard Will form. The following paragraphs include some sample provisions
for various situations. You may type or print them in ink in paragraph "THREE" on the Will
form. (Naturally, you must change the names, relationships, and addresses appropriately.) You
may alter the language of these sample provisions to suit your circumstances. If, however,
you have any doubts or questions about what you are doing, you should consult a lawyer to review
Paragraph "TWO" in the Non-Standard Will is identical to paragraph "TWO" in the Standard Will. You
should read the discussion of it in the preceding section entitled "The Standard Will."
It is important that you dispose of all of your estate when making a Will. Difficult
problems arise when a Will fails to dispose of some property. Because, however, it would
be practically impossible to list all the property you own, there are two methods for handling
this problem. One way is to leave all your estate to one or more people or organizations. Two
sample provisions for this can be found in this section. The other method for dealing
with this problem is to include a "residuary clause" in your Will. This clause follows
all the other provisions making specific gifts of your property, and serves as a "catch-all" for
all remaining assets you own at your death. If you do not leave all your estate to one
or more people or organizations, you definitely should include a residuary clause in your Will. The
following example illustrates the use of a residuary clause:
THREE: I give and devise the sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) to
my good friend Ralph J. Nelson of Boulder, Colorado.
I give and devise all real property which I own at my death to my father,
John T. Robinson.
|This is the residuary clause. -->
||I give and devise all of the rest and residue of my
estate to my daughter, Mary R. Robinson.
Other Sample Provisions
To Give All Your Estate To One Person
All property owned by me at my death is hereby devised to my mother, EDNA M. SMITH. If
she predeceases me, I devise all the property which I own at my death to my good friend, CHARLES
To Give All
Your Estate To Two Or More People In Equal Shares
All property owned by me at my death is hereby devised in equal shares to my brothers
who survive me. My brothers are: ROY R. PARKS, ROBERT S. PARKS and RAYMOND D. PARKS.
Give One Or More Items Of Property To One Person And All The Remainder Of The Estate To
I give and devise my real property, and all improvements thereon, situated at 1234
North Jackson Street, Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona to my son, EDGAR JOHN O'DAY. All
the rest and residue of my estate, I give and devise to my daughter, SUSAN ANN (O'DAY) MORGAN.
To Disinherit An Adult Child
I intentionally make no provision in this, my Last Will and Testament, for my son,
ROBERT T. MURPHY.
The Self-Proving Affidavit
The "Self-Proving Affidavit" consists of one page and is designed to be used with
both the Standard Will form and the Non-Standard Will form. It is not essential that you
use this form, but it is highly recommended. Its use can simplify the administration of
your estate after your death. To use this form, attach it to your Will as the last page. You
and the two witnesses to your Will must sign this Affidavit in the presence of a Notary Public.
A Sample Completed Will
To assist you in preparing your Will, this section includes an example of how a
hypothetical person might do it. This example is a Standard Will form, but the illustration
serves as well for the Non-Standard Will form. NOTE: Sample provisions for paragraph "THREE" of
the Non-Standard Will can be found in this section, above.
Assembling the Will Pages
And Executing The Will
After you have completed filling-out your Will forms, put them in the proper order. Remember,
if you use it, the Self-Proving Affidavit will be the last page. When the pages are assembled,
put two or three staples through the top of the forms, thereby attaching all the pages to each
Now you and your witnesses may sign the Will. If you use the Self-Proving Affidavit,
everyone must sign in the presence of a notary public. The signed Will may be folded
and should be stored in a safe place. Congratulations, you have completed drafting your