DIY Estate Plan: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

by Patricia Glover, Advanced Certified Paralegal, Notary Signing Agent, Certified Legal Document Preparer

If an estate plan is not set up correctly, it isn’t worth the piece of paper it’s written on.

In Arizona, the basic requirements of a written last will and testament include:

  • Must be in writing.
  • Must be signed by the testator or in the testator’s name by some other individual in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction.
  • Must be signed by at least two people, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after that person witnessed either the signing of the will or the testator’s acknowledgment of that signature or acknowledgment of the will.
  • Testator must be at least 18.
  • Testator must be of sound mind.

There are things an experienced estate planner knows to incorporate:

  • Who will care for minor children?
  • Is there anyone you want to specifically disinherit?
  • Will creditors or the government be able to seize your beneficiary’s inheritance by attachment of distributions?
  • Can provisions be made for the long-term care of a special needs beneficiary?
  • What happens if you become incapacitated?
  • Can you revoke/amend your estate plan?

Working with an experienced estate planner provides reassurance that important details are not unintentionally omitted.