Father with two boys out on the lake fishing. Representing the need to plan your estate early and to have a living will.

Estate planning laws are important. Quality estate planning can help you provide for your and your family’s future efficiently and sustainably. Below are crucial sources of estate planning laws for Arizona estate planning and definitions of estate planning terms.

Arizona Statutes

Title 14 is a large statutory law that governs Arizona estate planning. Title 14 – Trusts, Estates, and Protective Pleadings covers a variety of areas. Major sections include:

  • intestate succession
  • probate of wills and trusts
  • protection for those who are under disability during a judicial proceeding

Intestate Succession

What happens if you never create a will or plan your estate?

Most individuals in the US never plan out their estate while they are alive. If this happens, it’s called “intestacy”. If a person with a will dies, but it’s deemed invalid by a court of law, then this person’s estate would default to intestate succession.

Some choose to plan a will for only part of their estate. The part of their estate not included would be the intestate estate.

What does intestate succession really mean?

Intestate succession gives the court a way to distribute property of a deceased individual. In Arizona, the estate will pass to the decedent’s spouse or other heirs if a person dies without a will. This can also occur with certain property not covered by the will.

You may also limit the right of an heir or a group to receive property during intestate succession. Arizona law provides for this in A.R.S. 14-2101(B).

If a person elected is excluded, then the probate of the will and distribution of property would pass to the next in-line for succession.

Who really gets what?

If the decedent has a surviving spouse, the intestate estate passes to the spouse. If not, then the intestate estate passes to the decedent’s children.

What if the deceased spouse left surviving children that were not children of the surviving spouse? What if the deceased has no surviving spouse and no surviving children?

The statute and common law of Arizona come into place. A court must determine the proper distribution of property.

To ensure your estate is distributed in the way you choose, a will or trust is a great tool for you to use.


Wills, also sometimes known as a “last will and testament” are tools. that have been around for centuries. A will describes what you want to happen to your estate when you die. It can name heirs, guardians for minor children, and an executor.

What is an executor

An executor is a person named who can collect and distribute assets. Wills can be simple or complex. A will still must be valid under the law of Arizona before enforcement can happen by the court.

A will must be made or dictated by a competent person, or testator, who was of legal age and capable mind to make a will. The next step is to be properly executed, including witnesses and required signatures. There must be testamentary intent. This means that the testator must express the intentions to distribute the property.

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