The Law Office of Bethany L. Jacobs, PLLC
(602) 770-1069

Estate Planning 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a General Power of Attorney?


The General Power of Attorney lets you choose an agent and an alternate agent to make financial decisions for you once it is executed and for the time frame stated in the document.  A General Regular Power of Attorney has a beginning and end date, but may still be revoked in writing at any time before the expiration date for no reason or for cause.  A General Durable Power of Attorney has a beginning date and ends upon your death, but may still be revoked in writing at any time before your death for no reason or for cause.  You may limit the authority you grant as much as you desire.  e.g. You may have a General Regular Power of Attorney for one week that is limited to opening a savings account at a particular institution on your behalf.  Depending on how it is drafted, future incapacitation should not affect the authority granted by a General Power of Attorney.  


What is a Living Will?


The Living Will allows you to make future health care treatment decisions now so that if you become incapacitated and unable to make these decisions later, your family and doctors will know what medical care you want or do not want.  


What is a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney?


The Durable Health Care Power of Attorney lets you choose an agent and an alternate agent to make health care decisions if you can no longer make those decisions for yourself.  It also specifically outlines what decisions your agent can and cannot make for you.  It can even outline autopsy, organ donation, and burial/cremation preferences.  


What is a Durable Special Power of Attorney for Medical Services?


Did you know that most doctors and hospitals will render only essential lifesaving services to a minor child unless they have consent from a parent/legal guardian?  Consequently, an injured or ill child may not get all the treatment he or she needs when it is needed.  If you leave your child with friends, relatives, neighbors, or babysitters for any regular or extended time periods you should leave them with a written consent to authorize medical care for your minor child.  The Durable Special Power of Attorney for Medical Services ensures your child will get sufficient medical care when you are not present.  

Why do Parents of Minor Children Need a Will?

Wills are important because they allow you to leave property to designated people or organizations and appoint a personal representative to carry out the terms of your will.  However, for parents of minor children wills are of utmost concern.  A will allows you, the parent, to select a first and second option for a guardian to your minor children.  This person will be legally responsible for the care and welfare of your minor children.  If you die without a will, the courts will decide based on the evidence they have in front of them who should care for your children.  Don't leave this important decision up to a stranger!  

What is a Payable on Death Bank Account Designation?

A Payable-on-Death (POD) bank account designates a beneficiary to inherit the money in your bank account or certificate of deposit.  A POD offers an easy way to keep money out of probate.  It costs nothing and there is no limit on how much money you can leave this way.  It is easy to create—usually filling out a form at your local bank branch.  Moreover, it is easy for your designated POD to claim the money after your death by supplying a death certificate.  It is that simple.

Some of the many items to consider when evaluating if a POD is right for you in regards to your estate planning: 

(1) As long as you are alive, your designated POD has no rights to it.  You can still withdraw the money, close the account, or even change your designated POD, just as you can with your life insurance or retirement account beneficiary.  (2) Avoiding probate doesn't mean you can avoid your legal obligations to creditors and family support.  Community Property laws of your State may complicate matters if you are married and want to designate a POD other than your spouse or have child support obligations.  (3) Additionally, spouses with children from previous relationships should consider the fact that the surviving spouse’s POD will control over the deceased spouse’s.  (4) Lastly, minor children do not have legal authority to receive money left in a POD account and thus cannot be named as PODs.

What are Beneficiary Deeds for Real Property and Motor Vehicles?

The State of Arizona allows you to transfer your real estate and motor vehicles automatically upon death without a trust.  You can record a Beneficiary Deed for your real estate which designates a beneficiary. You can likewise file with the MVD a form which allows you to designate a beneficiary of your vehicle upon death. Both allow your heirs to avoid the time and expense of probate. Also, both can easily be changed at any point prior to your death and give no rights to your beneficiaries until your death. There are some requirements to be legally enforceable, so if you have questions about these types of transfers please contact me.

This is general information only.  Nothing contained herein is intended to be formal legal advice, nor should it be construed as the formation of an attorney-client relationship.