Under Arizona state probate laws, the beneficiaries you name in your will must survive you by at least 120 hours in order to inherit the gift. In other words, Arizona state probate laws consider a beneficiary as predeceasing the will testator if that beneficiary dies within five days of the testator’s death. The question that you might have then, is what happens to a gift you leave in your will if the beneficiary predeceases you – whether by literally dying before you, or by dying within five days of your death and statutorily predeceasing you.
Arizona state probate laws include what is called an anti-lapse statute that would kick in if a beneficiary under your will predeceases you. The anti-lapse statute would apply if the predeceasing beneficiary is your grandparent, a descendant of your grandparent, or your stepchild, who have at least one child who survives you. If the anti-lapse statute were to apply, the child who survives you would effectively take your beneficiary’s place, and inherit the gift instead of the beneficiary.
An example might help to illustrate: Let’s say you leave a gift in your will to your mother, and she passes away before you do, but she has a son (your brother). When you die, the anti-lapse statute kicks in because your mother is a descendant of your grandparents, thus your brother takes the gift in your mother’s stead. The anti-lapse statute, in this instance, would prevent the gift from lapsing, and it is designed to keep the distribution of your estate as closely aligned with your intent as possible. Of course, if you only wanted the gift to go to your mother, and not to her children, you could make the gift conditional by saying something like, “To my mother, if she survives me.”
The anti-lapse statute is but one of the many Arizona state probate laws that you should keep in mind when preparing your last will and testament. To make sure that your wishes are fully carried out after you are gone, you should work with a probate attorney when going through this process.