Arizona: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant state law in Arizona. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution

February 2, 2021

Thanks to its breath-taking landscapes and warm climate, Arizona has become a popular place for people to call “home”. In fact, in 2019, United Van Lines ranked Arizona as the third-most top moving destination in the U.S.

If you or someone you’re caring for lives in the Grand Canyon state, then there will be several important documents you’ll want to have in order. Here’s a complete list of all medical, legal, and estate planning forms you’ll need if you live in Arizona.

Essential Arizona Medical Laws & Forms

How to Get Your Medical Records in Arizona

According to Arizona Law 12-2297, healthcare providers must maintain a patient’s medical records as follows:

  • Adults: Six years after the last date the patient received medical care.
  • Minors: Until age 21 or six years after the last date the patient received medical care (whichever is longer).

For as long as they are available, you have the right to get a copy of or amend your medical records. You can find out more about how to do this here.

Read more about your rights when it comes to your medical records.

Advance Directive Laws in Arizona

Residents of Arizona who wish to set up an advance directive can find all of the forms they will need by visiting the website of the Arizona Attorney General. Available in both English and Spanish, you will find free downloadable "Life Care Planning" forms that consist of the following:

  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Mental Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Will (End of Life Care)
  • Pre-Hospital Medical Directive (Do Not Resuscitate)

Once these forms have been completed, they can be registered electronically with the Arizona Advance Directive Registry hosted by the Arizona Secretary of State. This will make it easier for health care providers to quickly access this information and give family members the peace of mind that their loved one's wishes will be carried out.

Arizona Organ Donor Registry

If you’d like to become an organ donor in the state of Arizona, then you can do so by signing up with the Donor Network of Arizona (DNA). DNA works together with Arizona's hospitals to take organ, eye, and tissue gifts and use them to save lives throughout Arizona as well as the rest of the United States.

Essential Arizona Legal & Estate Planning Documents & Forms

Arizona Probate Laws

When a resident of Arizona passes away, (becomes a "decedent" in legal terms) their estate must go through probate to determine how assets should be dispersed. 

Decedents who left a will can nominate someone to be their personal representative (Arizona’s version of an executor of a will). If there is no will or a personal representative was not named, Arizona probate will ask the following individuals (in this order) if they would like to serve as the personal representative:

  • The surviving spouse
  • Surviving adult children
  • Any other legal heir
  • A public fiduciary

If the decedent left a will, then the personal representative will distribute the assets to the designated beneficiaries. However, if no will can be produced, then Arizona’s law of intestate succession will determine how the assets will be distributed to the surviving heirs.

Anyone in Arizona who is of at least 18 years of age can create a will as long as it:

  • Bears the signature of the testator
  • Has two witnesses
  • Is notarized

Handwritten wills are even considered as valid as long as it meets the criteria above and is in the testator’s handwriting.

Probate can be simplified if the testator’s estate was relatively small (up to $75,000 in personal property or $100,000 of real property). In this case, all that would be needed is to file an affidavit.

Probate may be avoided for the following types of property:

  • Those with rights of survivorship or joint tenancy
  • Life insurance proceeds with a designated beneficiary
  • Annuities with a designated beneficiary
  • Retirement plans with a designated beneficiary 
  • Checking and investment accounts with a designated beneficiary
  • Assets that are part of a revocable living trust

Click here for more information about the Arizona probate process.

How to Set up a Trust in Arizona

Revocable living trusts are a legal means of passing personal property and real estate directly to your heirs outside of the probate process. To find out more about creating a revocable living trust in Arizona, click here.

Read more about the biggest differences between a will and a trust, and a guide to 11 different kinds of trusts to learn how a trust can help you with probate when planning your estate.

Arizona Digital Estate Planning Laws

In Arizona, your digital assets (emails, social media accounts, etc.) can be accessed and managed by your personal representative or trustee. To find out more about everything that’s covered, you can read the full bill here: SB 1413 Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

How to Get a Death Certificate in Arizona

Death certificates are available online through the Arizona Department of Health Services. However, since Arizona is a "closed record" state, death certificates can only be accessed by those individuals who meet the state's eligibility requirements (such as a spouse, family member, power of attorney, etc.)

Does Arizona Have an Estate & Inheritance Tax?

Whether you plan to leave assets to a beneficiary or you’re the heir to someone else’s estate, there may be taxes owed to the IRS. If you live in Arizona, here are the state-level taxes that will be collected:

  • Estate tax: None. However, remember that larger estates may still be subject to the federal estate tax.
  • Inheritance tax: None. Remember that if you live in Arizona and someone from another state has made you an heir to their estate, then the other state’s inheritance laws may apply.
  • Gift tax: None. But don’t forget that the federal gift tax exemption is $15,000 per gift recipient per year.

Getting Your Documents Organized in Arizona

There are a lot of great reasons to live in Arizona. Not only have they simplified the advance directive process with their public registry, but they also offer a relatively straight-forward probate system. 

Even with these benefits, you’ll still want to make sure you’ve got your most important documents in order. You can easily do this by creating a customized account with Pillar. Use Pillar to scan, digitally store, and share your most important files with your family and those who need them.

Start your free 14-day trial today and see if Pillar is right for you.