How to Make a Will in Arizona
How to make a will in Arizona and what can happen if you don't.
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How to Make a Will in Arizona

How to make a will in Arizona and what can happen if you don't.

Steps to Create a Will in Arizona

Here's a quick checklist for making a will in Arizona:

  1. Decide what property to include in your will.
  2. Decide who will inherit your property.
  3. Choose a personal representative to handle your estate.
  4. Choose a guardian for your children.
  5. Choose someone to manage children's property.
  6. Make your will.
  7. Sign your will in front of witnesses.
  8. Store your will safely.

Why Should I Make an Arizona Will?

A will, also called a "last will and testament," can help you protect your family and your property. You can use a will to:

  • leave your property to people or organizations
  • name a personal guardian to care for your minor children
  • name a trusted person to manage property you leave to minor children, and
  • name a personal representative, the person who makes sure that the terms of your will are carried out.

What Happens if I Don't Have a Will?

In Arizona, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to state "intestacy" laws. Arizona's intestacy law gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you have neither a spouse nor children, your grandchildren or your parents will get your property. This list continues with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. If the court exhausts this list to find that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will?

No. You can make your own will in Arizona, using Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust. However, you may want to consult a lawyer in some situations. For example, if you think that your will might be contested or if you want to disinherit your spouse, you should talk with an attorney. Nolo's will-making products tell you when it's wise to seek a lawyer's advice.

What Are the Requirements for Making a Will in Arizona?

To make a will in Arizona, you must be:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • of sound mind.

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2501.

Your will must be in writing, but it can either be on hard copy or a digital file that has been electronically signed. (See “Can I Make a Digital or Electronic Will?” below.) Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2502. Arizona does permit handwritten (holographic) wills Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2503.

How Do I Sign My Arizona Will?

To finalize your will in Arizona:

  1. you must sign your will in front of two witnesses, and
  2. your witnesses must sign your will within a reasonable period of time after you signed or acknowledged your will to them.

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2502.

Neither witness can be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption or be a beneficiary of the will unless the will is self-proved (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2505). Even if you have your will self-proved, it's best not to have an “interested” witness sign your will because doing so could call into question the validity of your will.

Holographic (handwritten) wills do not require witnesses. The signature and material provisions must be in your handwriting. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2503.

Do I Need to Have My Will Notarized?

No, in Arizona, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal.

However, Arizona allows you to make your will "self-proving" and you'll need to go to a notary if you want to do that. A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.

To make your will self-proving, you and your witnesses will go to the notary and sign an affidavit that proves who you are and that each of you knew you were signing the will. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2504.

Should My Will Name a Personal Representative?

Yes. In Arizona, you can use your will to name a personal representative who will ensure that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death. Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust software produces a letter to your personal representative that generally explains what the job requires. If you don't name a personal representative, the probate court will appoint someone to take on the job of winding up your estate.

Can I Revoke or Change My Will?

In Arizona, you may revoke or change your will at any time. You can revoke your will by:

  • performing a “revocatory act” with the purpose of revoking all or part of your will. Revocatory acts include burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating, or destroying the will or making it unreadable, or
  • creating a new will that expressly states it is revoking the old will or contradicts the old will.

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2507.

If you get divorced or your marriage is annulled, any gift to your spouse or appointment of your spouse or one of their relatives as a personal representative or trustee is automatically revoked unless your will expressly states otherwise. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2804.

If you need to make changes to your will, it's best to revoke it and make a new one. However, if you have only very simple changes to make, you could add an amendment to your existing will – this is called a codicil. In either case, you will need to finalize your changes with the same formalities you used to make your original will (see above).

Can I Make a Digital or Electronic Will?

In a few states, you can make a legal will digitally – that is, you can make the will, sign it, and have it witnessed without ever printing it out. Arizona amended its wills statutes to allow e-wills in 2019. To make an e-will in Arizona, you must:

  • create and maintain an electronic record of the will
  • electronically sign the will
  • have at least two witnesses electronically sign the will within a reasonable time after seeing you sign or acknowledge it. They must have been physically present when you electronically signed the will or acknowledged it.
  • include the date you and your witnesses electronically signed the will
  • include a copy of your government-issued identification card. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2518.

You must also appoint a “qualified custodian” who is responsible for electronically storing the will. This custodian must:

  • not be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • not be a beneficiary named in the will or their relative, and
  • consistently store electronic records of electronic wills in a system that protects them from destruction, alteration, or unauthorized access and detects any change to the electronic record. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2520.

The custodian must store all of the following in the electronic record:

  • a photo of you and your witnesses taken at the time you executed the will
  • a photo of any documentation that was taken at the same time you executed the will that proves your identity and that of your witnesses, and
  • an audio or video recording of you executing the will. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2520.

Electronic wills can also be self-proved. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-2519.

Where Can I Find Arizona's Laws About Making Wills?

You can find Arizona's laws about making wills here: Arizona Revised Statutes Title 14 – Trusts, Estates and Protective Proceedings Chapter 2 – Intestate Succession and Wills.

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