Probate & Estate Planning

For decedents who owned property of relatively modest value, Arizona law provides for ownership transfers that do not require probate court oversight.

Small Estate Affidavit


small estate affidavit,

also known as an Affidavit for Transfer of Personal Property, allows an heir to transfer or claim the estate’s assets free of probate, provided that the net value of those assets qualifies for small-estate treatment.

To qualify, the value of the decedent’s total personal property (e.g., cash, bank accounts, securities, business interests, vehicles, and other non-real estate assets), minus any liens or encumbrances on those assets, must be $75,000 or less.
Continue Reading Small Estate Affidavits: Avoiding probate in property disposition

At its core, estate planning is setting the terms upon which assets are transitioned from a person, often a parent, to another such as a child. Without proper estate planning creating trusts for children, a parent’s assets become available to the child immediately if at the parent’s death: (a) the parent was not married to the child’s other parent and (b) the child is over the age of 18. Money can be a powerful tool. It also can be abused or squandered. Most would agree that even a modest sum of money would be better served by holding back the
Continue Reading Trusts for Children

 Estate Planning Update
July, 2022
1. 2022 Annual Gift Tax Exclusion: increased to $16,000 per donor, per donee.
2. 2022 Gift and Estate Tax Exemption: increased to $12,060,000 per donor through 2025, see #6.
3. Marital Deduction for Transfers to U.S. Spouse: remains unlimited.
4. 2022 Generation Skipping Tax Exclusion: increased to $12,060,000 per donor through 2025, see #6.
5. Top rate for Federal Estate, Gift and Generation Skipping Taxes: 40%.
6. National Topics: The current Gift and Estate Tax Exemption is doubled to get to the amounts set forth above and the question is, will the doubling (a) be
Continue Reading July 2022 Estate Planning Update

June marked the end of a four year complex trust administration odyssey.  This administration could have been a television show, as it had every intrigue you can imagine – power struggles, illiquid assets, environmental claims, a defunct closely held business with unpaid claims, an injunction preventing the sale of real estate, property tax claims, third party claims, and bickering beneficiaries, all of which was made worse by an unscrupulous advisor who attempted to take control.  No less than ten different attorneys were involved in various aspects of the administration.  DeAngelis Legal advised the successor trustee from acceptance as trustee, through
Continue Reading June 2022 Complex Trust Administration

DeAngelis Legal documented the sale of goodwill of a Phoenix food distributer.  In this friendly sale of the business, the buyer and seller had a long standing relationship.  DeAngelis Legal prepared the purchase and sale agreement on behalf of the seller and the transaction closed with minimal changes from either party.
The post June 2022 Sale of Goodwill appeared first on DeAngelis Legal.
Continue Reading June 2022 Sale of Goodwill

DeAngelis Legal prepared a comprehensive employment agreement with change in control provisions for this Scottsdale based business.  For closely held companies, guaranteeing compensation upon a change in control or sale of the business is often better to giving key employees equity in the entity.  The benefits of this structure are (a) the employee does not have to come up with cash to buy-in, (b) the equity stake does not need to be re-purchased upon an adverse event such as death, divorce, bankruptcy or resignation, (c) the owner does not relinquish control, (d) the terms can be flexible and incorporate vesting
Continue Reading June 2022 Employment Agreement

DeAngelis Legal advised long time Scottsdale clients on appropriate IRA beneficiary designations.  After the 2017 Tax Act, non-spouse beneficiaries can no longer take distributions over their lifetime and in most cases must take all distributions within 10 years of the account owner’s death.  This makes planning for large retirement accounts difficult, especially when you see bad advice circulating main stream media, such as Barron’s July 2, 2022 article “How to Minimize Your Heirs’ Tax Burden on Inherited IRAs and 401(k)s” suggesting that different asset classes should go to different beneficiaries, which is the worst estate planning advice Quinn has read
Continue Reading May 2022 IRA Beneficiary Designations

An increase in deaths in Arizona over the winter caused an increase in probate and trust administration.  DeAngelis Legal continued to provide assistance to family members with these administrations from the preparation of simple Affidavit of Small Estates and Informal Probates to more complex situations requiring Formal Probates and difficult trust administrations.  Each situation is unique, but suffice to say these administrations could have been made easier if the deceased had spent a little more time organizing their financial affairs and appropriately titling assets.
The post May 2022 Probate and Trust Administration appeared first on DeAngelis Legal.
Continue Reading May 2022 Probate and Trust Administration

Under Arizona’s intestate succession statutes, who is entitled to the Decedent’s property is largely a function of how potential heirs are related to the Decedent and how each category of relationship ranks in the statutory pecking order.

In the absence of a properly draft and executed Will or Trust, dying “intestate” triggers a situation in which claims against the Decedent’s estate must be validated and settled by the courts, in a vacuum formed by ignorance of the Decedent’s wishes.

It is not an exaggeration to state that intestacy creates a potential free-for-all (in fact, we use that very phrase in
Continue Reading Dying without a will (intestate): A look at Arizona’s laws of intestacy

Community property:

To help ensure that your intentions are honored regarding the ownership of your pre-move assets and any assets you acquired after moving to Arizona, you would be wise to schedule a review of your will, trust and ownership documents.

The reason: If you moved here from any of the

41 states not mentioned above,

you should assume that your will, trust, ownership documents, etc., will not provide in Arizona the relative certainty that you enjoyed in your previous state.

(The property laws of the eight other “community property” states are similar to Arizona’s, and the estate planning impacts
Continue Reading New to Arizona? Our community property laws may conflict with your estate plan

DeAngelis Legal prepared the estate plan for a young couple with generational wealth.  This project was made more complicated by one spouse’s interest in four irrevocable trusts and a myriad of out of state family businesses gifted from the spouse’s parents.  While the couple’s planning was simple, DeAngelis Legal assisted the spouse understand her rights in the complex web of trusts and businesses and decide which powers to exercise to increase the likelihood that the assets would remain in the family and provide centralized management.
The post April 2022 Estate Planning for Generational Wealth appeared first on DeAngelis Legal.
Continue Reading April 2022 Estate Planning for Generational Wealth

On January 13, 2022, the Court of Appeals provided an excellent illustration of intestate succession when it decided In the Estate of Dougherty. In doing so, the Court also clarified when an adopted person may inherit through their birth parents. While this decision does not provide some new, earth-shattering precedent, it does hammer down Arizona’s intestate succession procedure when the decedent’s descendants are the only surviving heirs.
When someone dies without a will, or other estate plan, that person has died “intestate.” Intestate succession is the statutory process for distributing an intestate decedent’s estate. Arizona has a comprehensive intestate succession
Continue Reading Adopted, But Not Disinherited – An Example of Arizona Intestacy