Mesa Estate Planning Lawyer

Insightful attorney finds cost-effective ways to help clients preserve and pass on wealth

Estate planning is an important matter for anyone concerned with protecting their assets for a secure retirement and creating a substantial legacy for their heirs. For more than 30 years, the Law Firm of Joseph M. Udall, PLC in Mesa has provided estate planning services uniquely tailored to the specific needs of Arizona residents. We thoroughly examine your finances, family structure, charitable giving, work history and health status to develop a full understanding of your needs, concerns and challenges. If you have questions regarding the best way to structure your assets for your enjoyment and eventual transfer, our firm is ready with no-nonsense answers.

One Mesa law firm handles all your Arizona estate planning needs

If you die without a will or other means of planning your estate, the law will specify to whom your estate goes and in what proportions, without regard to your intentions. Even if you have a will, poor drafting can tie up your estate in litigation while the resulting expense drains the estate assets. In addition, poorly drafted documents or conflicting legal instruments can trigger probate litigation, causing stress and heartache among family members. A well-crafted strategy can avert problems in the settlement of your estate. Our firm translates your goals and objectives into a comprehensive estate plan that ensures your heirs and beneficiaries will receive your property as you intend. Moreover, a versatile plan can accelerate probate court proceedings or even avoid them, saving time and expense.

Why you need a Mesa estate planning lawyer

Our firm offers reliable advice regarding a full range of estate planning options, such as:

  • Wills — A clear, valid will allows you to transfer your assets after death according to your wishes. Drafting a proper testamentary document will help your heirs avoid complications during the probate process so they can receive your bequests sooner.
  • Trusts — By creating a legal entity to hold and distribute your assets, you can accomplish numerous objectives. Many people opt for revocable living trusts that enable them to use their assets throughout their lifetime then transfer what remains upon their death to the beneficiaries that they name. You might also wish to establish a special needs trust to support a son or daughter without putting their government-provided benefits at risk. Another option is a spendthrift trust that places limits on when and how someone can use the funds that are left to them.
  • Probate — The process by which the court settles a deceased person’s estate can be expensive and time-consuming. We work with testators to help their loved ones avoid or minimize probate hassles through sound, practical estate planning. Our firm also helps estate executors and heirs see that distributions are made in accordance with the decedent’s instructions.
  • Powers of attorney and advance healthcare directives — Many of our clients plan for the possibility of incapacity by executing durable powers of attorney, which appoint someone they trust to make key decisions, such as those relating to medical care and financial matters. You can also develop a living will, which is an enforceable document that expresses your wishes regarding what life-prolonging measures you want taken. We prepare all types of advance healthcare directives so clients have the security of knowing that their preferences will be honored.
  • Guardianships and conservatorships — Loved ones might seek guardianship of a minor whose parents are not capable of providing proper care or conservatorship of an adult who is not capable of safely addressing their daily needs. 
  • Long-term care planning — Even people with considerable wealth have trouble paying the substantial cost of long-term care. Our firm offers solutions that help families preserve their assets and maintain Medicaid eligibility if the need for long-term care arises.

The wide variety of estate planning options can result in a patchwork of legal instruments that might miss key concerns. For comprehensive and seamless protection, choose an experienced attorney willing to give personal attention to planning your estate. We design each client’s estate strategy to achieve our clients’ goals in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning

Can you help revise my existing will?

Wills and other estate planning instruments can be revised. They are not meant to be static documents. Relationships and financial circumstances can change significantly over time and you should be sure that your testamentary documents reflect your current intentions. If you have not reviewed the terms of your will in a few years, we can help you evaluate your current needs and make any revisions you believe are warranted. 

Should I create an advance healthcare directive?

No matter your age or health status, an accident or sudden illness can leave you incapacitated at any time. When this occurs, there could be confusion and conflict about who is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf. By executing a valid healthcare directive, you designate someone you trust to act as your agent if you are unable to communicate and can also express your wishes regarding the types of treatment you want, or don’t want.

Can you help protect my assets with a trust?

Trusts are key elements in many estate plans. Whether you want to help your family avoid the probate process, maintain eligibility for Medicaid or provide financial support to a loved one with special needs, a trust might be the right solution. They also serve numerous other functions and can be personalized to suit your situation and goals. After discussing your needs, we can suggest if a trust is the best way to protect and distribute your assets.

Do I need a lawyer to make a will?

A will is a legal document that is enforced by a court during the probate process. Unless the document meets the standards set forth by Arizona law, the testator’s instructions are not honored and their assets are distributed according to the state’s intestacy provisions. Though there are ways of drafting a will without retaining a lawyer, you run the risk of creating a document that violates state law, fails to reflect your specific intentions or complicates your estate by overlooking key elements.

When should I create my estate plan?

Any adult who owns property should have a valid will in place so that they can maintain control over how their assets will be allocated in the event of their death. This responsibility becomes much more important as people start families and accumulate more wealth. Our firm works with Arizona clients over time to develop and modify estate plans that align with their situation and goals.

What happens if I die without a will?

Arizona’s law on intestate succession establishes a priority system among surviving family members when someone dies with property in their estate that is not addressed by a valid will. The result might differ greatly from what you like, so it is important to draft an enforceable will. Intestacy laws do not distinguish among family member in a certain group. For example, if your estate is to be divided among your siblings, each would receive an equal share, even if you were estranged from one and did not want them to inherit anything.

Looking for a Mesa-based estate planning attorney?

The Law Firm of Joseph M. Udall, PLC helps Arizona residents draft legal instruments to protect and distribute their assets. Please call (480) 500-1866 or contact us online to discuss your needs with an experienced attorney. We provide telephone consultations, and Saturday and evening appointments are available. We speak Spanish fluently.