WHAT RIGHTS DO YOU HAVE UNDER ARIZONA'S LIVING WILL LAW?
The Arizona legislature has determined that you have the right to direct your medical treatment if you are suffering from a terminal illness or injury. If you are deemed by your treating physician to be suffering from an illness or condition from which you are not really expected to recover, or from which you are not expected to return to a quality life, you have the right to refuse treatment and nourishment.
Under Arizona law, you can sign a living will. This directs the doctors and medical providers not to give certain treatment just to keep you alive in the event you have these conditions. Arizona law specifically requires that these medical providers follow your living will and, if they are not inclined to follow it, and do not want to follow it, then they must turn your care over to another provider who will follow the law.
This law actually makes life more comfortable for family members who, rather than guessing what you might want, know your wishes because you've stated them in writing.
WHEN DO YOU NEED A LIVING TRUST?
The court-supervised process of settling a deceased person's estate and distributing the person's property is called probate. As with other parts of our judicial system, the probate process is more cumbersome than it needs to be.
To make sure all creditors are paid, the laws require that creditors be given four months to file claims against your estate. This, combined with "ordinary" delays of processing paperwork, mean even the most simple probate takes many months to complete. Not surprisingly, the court costs and attorneys' fees can mount into the thousands of dollars. And, because our court system is open to everyone, all of your personal financial affairs are a matter of public record.
A living trust is a legal entity that you can set up to own property for you. And since your property is transferred into the name of the trust, when you die, you own nothing in your own name. This means you have nothing to probate.
When you use a living trust, you avoid probate, which means you can save thousands of dollars in court costs and attorneys' fees. Plus you save many months of unnecessary delays.
You also do much more. Your living trust contains instructions about what to do in the event of your physical or mental incapacity. So your living trust prevents the need for a costly conservatorship. What's more, your living trust is a private document, so it fully protects your privacy.
So, when do you typically need a living trust? You typically need a trust when you want to avoid probate, avoid attorneys' fees and court costs, avoid time delays, avoid conservatorships, and avoid exposing your personal financial affairs in court records.
You don't need a living trust if you have a small estate, which will not require probate.