Detailing your last wishes and the distribution of your belongings to loved ones in your will helps avoid confusion after your death. The will must be clear to avoid misinterpretation of your directions by the Arizona probate court. Arizona law contains standards that must be met for your will to be admitted to probate, the legal proceedings used to give authority to the executor you named in your will. The executor is the person who will carry out your will's directions, transfer assets and items to your heirs and settle your financial affairs.
Write down all of your assets. Include real estate you own, vehicles and money, like retirement and bank accounts, and any other asset recognized under Arizona probate law. Assign an approximate value to each item if you are concerned about your loved ones receiving equal shares. Name the list "Assets."
List all of the personal items you own that have sentimental or a high monetary value. Include items like family heirlooms, jewelry, antiques and other things you want to leave to a specific person. Review the list carefully. Insert the name of the person you want to leave any of the items to next to the object. Remove any items you are not leaving to a specific person from the list. Do not include small household items, like towels and appliances; Arizona law allows your executor to assign a total value to small household items. Name the list "Personal Bequests."
Make a list of all of your legal heirs. Include heirs you are not leaving anything to. Arizona law provides shares to children omitted in a will if you do not state in your will the omission was intentional. Highlight any heirs you do not want to share in your estate and note "state omission in will" next to the name. Name the list "Legal Heirs."
Make a list of beneficiaries under your will who are not your heirs. Include charities, friends, clergy members and religious organizations. Use the full names of each person and the proper name for the organization or religious order. You may leave specific amounts of money, assets or items to any person or organization under Arizona law, but you must clearly identify the recipient to avoid problems in probate court. Name the list "Beneficiaries."
Review your "Assets" list. Decide how you want your assets distributed. You may leave all of your assets to one person, like your spouse, or a group of people, like your children. Insert the name of the person receiving the asset next to the asset on your list if you are leaving particular assets to specific heirs or beneficiaries.
Talk to the person you want to designate as the executor. Inform the person about an executor's duties to ensure he is prepared for the obligation. Talk to your successor executor if you are naming one. A successor executor acts in the place of you executor if he dies or is unable to perform the required duties.
Get a fill-in will form from a legal print store. You may draft your will yourself, but the document must meet Arizona requirements. Use the will form to help you if you are writing the will yourself. Check Arizona laws on wills. Visit the official website of the Arizona State Legislature to view Title 14 of the Arizona Code, the section that contains state laws on wills.
Type your will. Holographic, or handwritten, wills are allowed under Arizona law, but the court may decide provisions if your handwriting is not clear. Include all directions and bequests. Refer to your Assets, Personal Bequests, Legal Heirs and Beneficiaries list to verify you are not missing anything. Name your executor and successor executor.
Sign and date the will in front of two witnesses. Have the witness sign and date the will in the appropriate spot on the will, usually after your signature. Arizona law does not require disinterested witnesses -- witnesses who do not benefit under your will -- but using disinterested persons may help avoid a will contest. Keep your will in a safe place or file the document in the probate clerk's office for safekeeping, if possible.
Consult an attorney if you are uncertain about any aspect of your will. You may need to create a trust in your will if any of your heirs or beneficiaries are minors. Consult an attorney for assistance if you need trust provisions.
Making a error in your will may result in your directions not being followed or an heir not receiving the share you set aside for her. A will that does not comply with Arizona laws may not be admitted to probate.