Arizona Will Instructions

Simple, clear instructions showing you how to fill out your Arizona will.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Wills

Who Can Make A Will?
What Does The Will Do?
What Are The Advantages Of Making A Will?
Do I Need A Lawyer?
Can I Create A Trust In My Will?
What Happens After I Make My Will?
How Can I Change My Will?
How Can I Revoke My Will?
Can I Disinherit My Spouse Or One Or More Of My Children?
 

Some Questions Regarding Terms Used in a Will

What Is A Testator And A Testatrix?
What Is A Personal Representative?
What Is A Beneficiary?
What Is A Guardian For A Child?
What Is A Conservator For A Child?
 

How To Use the Will Forms

General
The Standard Will
The Non-Standard Will
 

Other Sample Provisions

To Give All Your Estate To One Person
To Give All Your Estate To Two Or More People In Equal Shares
To Give One Or More Items To One Person And The Remainder To Another
To Disinherit An Adult Child
 

Other

The Self-Proving Affidavit
A Sample Completed Will
Assembling The Will Pages And Executing The Will
 

Instructions

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?
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, which follows.

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 grounds.

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

General
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 property.

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, etc.

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 your Will.

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 R. JOHNSON.

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.

To Give One Or More Items Of Property To One Person And All The Remainder Of The Estate To Someone Else
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 other.

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 own Will!

 

Form

Date Updated

Arizona Will Information and Instructions   December 23, 2011
Arizona Will December 23, 2011
Arizona Non-Standard Will December 23, 2011
Self-Proving Affidavit December 23, 2011
Sample Completed Will December 23, 2011

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