Phoenix office: 1850 N. Central Ave., Suite 2400, Phoenix, Arizona 85004 | Sun City office: 13250 N. Del Webb Blvd. Suite B Sun City, AZ 85351

Sharon Ravenscroft Estate Planning Blog

Welcome to my blog covering all things estate planning, family estate planning. business planning, wills, trusts & probate.

Sharon is a Shareholder of The Cavanagh Law Firm, P.A. which has offices in Phoenix and Sun City, Arizona. Sharon was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona.


Sharon received her B.A., cum laude, in 1984 from Wellesley College and her J.D. in 1987 from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she was a staff writer on the international law journal.


Simplifying the challenges related to family asset and estate legal issues is her focus for her clients.

Are you a newlywed?

Newlyweds, who lived together for some time before marrying, might already have estate planning documents which include each of the couple. Nevertheless, the prior documents should be updated to reflect the marriage. Community property laws can change the manner in which estate is applied. The status or description of children or relatives could
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Caution when amending Estate Planning Documents

Each estate planning document has statutory requirements as to whether one or two witnesses are needed or if a notarized signature is required. These requirements create authenticity and a comfort level so that they can be enforced and followed by courts, financial institutions and health care providers. If someone marks out provisions or writes
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What happens wh...

What happens when you don't have a Will? If you don't have a beneficiary on your assets, then they go to your heirs. Your heir is your spouse, unless you had kids from outside your marriage, the the kids get your community property interest and half your separate property. If you aren't married your heirs are your children; if no children, then
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Estate Tax Exclusion Increased in 2015

New to 2015 is that one person can pass an aggregate of $5.43 million estate tax free (last year it was $5.34 million). If you are a couple and have a trust that must split upon the death of one of you, your trust likely should be updated for an optional split. If your estate exceeds what you can pass estate tax free, an irrevocable life insurance
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New laws regarding marriage

Now that Arizona recognizes same-sex marriage it is a good idea to review your estate plan. Do you have a Domestic Partnership Agreement which should become a Pre-Marriage or Post-Marriage Agreement? Do you have joint property that now can be treated as community property? Does a family member have a partner who now legally can be recognized as an
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Having the right Successor Trustee

We can make things easier for our family when we are ill or upon our death, when we effectively use a Revocable Living Trusts are very useful for assuring access to assets due to illness or death. One way is to be sure that you have the right persons named as your Successor Trustee to take care of your assets when you cannot. If you have named a
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Get more than just paper when your estate plan is done.

Estate planning needs to be more than just a stack of paper. Legal services should be that-- service, including information, advice and a somewhere to call when you have questions how to use your documents. So I provide legal services, and most follow calls are answered without charge, unless new research or documents are needed.
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LLC interests can be held as joint tenants with right of survivorship

If you have an LLC but do not have a trust a new law, A.R.S. 29-732.01, allows LLC interests to be held as joint tenants with right of survivorship or community property with right of survivorship. The Operating Agreement must provide for the right of survivorship. This new law avoids probate if you own interest in an LLC but do not have a trust
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Beware of Scam related to Deeds used for a trust

From time to time, there are scams where companies send official looking bills to people who recently recorded deeds to their trust or otherwise. If you receive a bill regarding a deed processing notice, property transfer service or other official looking agency, other than the county assessor's office, these likely are not real. Feel free to
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Increase in the maximum value of assets to avoid probate

The Arizona legislature has passed a law effective on September 12, 2013, which increases the amount of assets which would require a probate. You can avoid probate only if the assets you hold in your name do not exceed $100,000 of real property or $75,000 in personal property (cash, accounts and tangible personal property). This is increased by
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