By writing a will, a testator has peace of mind that his property and assets will be distributed according to his wishes after his death. He may also make provision in a will for the guardianship of his children. Title 14, Chapter 3 of the Arizona Revised Statutes contains the law relating to wills in the state. In essence, any individual over the age of 18 and of sound mind can write a will, provided that he complies with all other legal formalities.
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To be legally valid, all wills executed in Arizona must be in writing and are usually typewritten. The testator must sign her will, or direct another person to sign it, in the presence of two witnesses. Legally, the will is also valid if the testator acknowledges her signature in the presence of the witnesses. The witnesses should also sign the will. To avoid any future uncertainty, the will should be dated. A holographic, or handwritten, will is valid in the state of Arizona if it is in the testator’s own handwriting. It does not have to be witnessed.
Revoking a Will
A testator can revoke his will at any time, simply by writing a new one. The Arizona laws assume that a testator intends any subsequent will to replace an existing will. A testator may also perform what is known as a “revocatory act,” which involves burning, tearing or otherwise destroying the will. Burning, tearing or canceling the will is deemed to be a revocatory act, whether or not the burn, tear or cancellation in fact touches any of the words written on the will.
Changing a Will
A testator may change his will as often and whenever he likes. Often, to avoid rewriting the will completely, testators merely write a short amendment to the will, known as a codicil. The codicil must be signed, dated and witnessed and should be placed with the original will for safekeeping.
Effect of Not Writing a Will
If a person dies without leaving a will, she is said to be “intestate.” In these circumstances, the state laws decide on the allocation of her property. Usually, the spouse and children of the deceased person inherit the estate, although in certain circumstances different rules apply to community property and separate property. If an individual dies with no spouse or children, her parents inherit the estate. If she had no family, the state is entitled to inherit the estate.
References & Resources
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