Category Archives: Arizona enacted legislation

Is Your Will Valid Under Arizona Law?

Recently, the law has changed in Arizona as to the validity of a Will. Arizona also allows electronic Wills under certain circumstances.  

For any Will executed on or after October 1, 2019, unless it is self-proved as prescribed in Arizona Revised Statutes Section 14-2504 or 14-2519, a person may not act as a witness to a Will if that person is a devisee under that Will or is related by blood, marriage or adoption to a devisee under that Will.  “Devisee” means a person who is designated in the Will to receive a devise (distribution) or who is a beneficiary of a trust that is designated in the Will to receive a devise.

A Will is self-proved if both the will maker and the witnesses have signed after proper attestations — dictated by statute — and had their signatures notarized. 

Arizona requires two witnesses.  Who is competent to be a witness? ARS Section 14-2505 says that a person who is generally competent to be a witness may act as a witness to a will.  Who is that?  A person at least 18 years of age and of sound mind is competent to be a witness.  

As to Electronic Wills:

In addition to the requirements of section 14-2504, to be self-proved, an electronic Will must meet all the following requirements:

1. Contain the electronic signature and electronic seal of a notary public placed on the Will in accordance with applicable law.  

2. Designate a qualified custodian to maintain custody of the electronic will.

3. Before being offered for probate or being reduced to a certified paper original, be under the exclusive control of a qualified custodian at all times.

Also, the journal to record the notary act must be in a tamper-evident electronic journal; no recording in a paper journal.  The electronic journal and the audio-visual recording are public records upon proper request to the notary.


Under Arizona law, there is a statute (law) that deals with the problem of a missing beneficiary. Arizona Revised Statute §14-3914 states what is to be done if an heir, a beneficiary where there is no Will, or a devisee, a beneficiary where there is a Will, cannot be found. 

What does this statute say? If such a person cannot be found, the personal representative (executor) of the estate can distribute the share of the missing person to his or her conservator, if there is one.  Otherwise, the cash must be deposited to the Arizona Department of Revenue into the permanent school fund.  In short, the government gets it. 

If a person later appears and claims to be the missing heir or devisee, that person  makes a claim to the escheated property.  “Escheated” is the legal term for reversion of property to the state or some agency of the state.  

If the person shows up within seven (7) years, the person files a claim to the money with the Arizona Department of Revenue.  Thereafter, the department can hold a hearing and “receive evidence,” if they like.  If there is a hearing, the department issues a decision which is in the public record.  If the claim is granted, the department issues payment immediately.  If the claim is denied, the aggrieved party can then file an action in Superior Court to adjudicate the claim in court.


New laws taking effect on January 1, 2022 include an increase in minimum wage, a change in income taxes and the chance for some adopted Arizonans to access their birth certificates. 

Minimum wage increase

The state minimum wage will increase from $12.15 per hour to $12.80 per hour on January 1. Voters initially approved a yearly minimum wage increase in 2016, with the increases to be based on cost-of-living after minimum wage reached $12 per hour in 2020. The minimum wage in Arizona in 2016 was $8.05 per hour. 

Income tax

Arizona’s four tax brackets will be replaced by two.  The tax rates for single people and married people filing separately will be 2.55 percent for those making $27,272 and less. The tax rate will be 2.98 percent for single filers making more than $27,272 and joint filers with incomes over $54,544. 

Arizona’s previous rates ranged from 2.59 percent for single filers with income up to $26,500 to 4.5 percent for single filers with income more than $159,000, with monetary thresholds doubled for those filing jointly. 

Birth certificates for adoptees

Anyone born on or before June 20, 1968 andadopted in Arizona can access their original birth certificate upon request.  For those born after that date, the release of an Arizona birth certificate requires a court order — as was the case for all Arizona adoptees prior to Jan. 1. 

Homestead exemption increase

Arizona’s homestead exemption will increase from $150,000 to $250,000. This means that homeowners can protect more of the equity in their homes when in bankruptcy. However, while judgement liens previously did not apply to homestead property, as of the start of 2022, now they do. This means that homeowners would not have access to homestead equity until they pay those lien holders. 

Paid Sick Leave Is Now The Law In AZ

Arizona’s new law mandating paid sick leave starts July 1. Businesses and non-profit groups could face penalties for failing to keep records, post notices and could incur damages for failing to provide paid sick time. Employers who retaliate against workers exercising their rights could face fines of at least $150 per day.

The law mandating as many as 40 hours of paid sick leave, which was approved by voters in November of 2016 that also raised the state’s minimum wage, applies to almost all businesses and non-profits with at least one Arizona employee including entities not headquartered in the state. The only exceptions are those employed by Arizona’s state or federal government and sole proprietors. So, whether full-time or part-time, temporary or seasonal, all will receive paid sick time. They will be able to use this benefit for a variety of reasons. There are a number of reasons where an employee may require sick leave. One of the reasons could be that an employee experienced an injury whilst working, meaning that they needed some time off. Whilst they probably should be entitled to sick pay, the employer should also try and organize some worker’s compensation to help the employee return to work easily. To learn more about this compensation, employers may want to visit FFVA Mutual to find out more.

The minimum requirements are 24 hours of paid sick time off annually for businesses with 14 or fewer workers, or 40 hours off for entities with 15 or more people. Employees are entitled to receive paid sick-time off; independent contractors are not. The general rule is that if you issue a W-2 to a worker, that person is an employee entitled to the benefit.

The law allows paid leave for various reasons besides sickness or injury such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking or the closing of a child’s school owing to a public health emergency. Additionally, reasons include taking time off to meet with an attorney, arranging shelter services or securing safe housing, as well as issues on behalf of family members. The definition of family members is quite broad including siblings, grandparents, in-laws and others. Significantly, an employer can request proof or documentation only after a worker has been absent for three days in a row. And, when proof is required, it can come in a variety of forms such as a doctor’s note, a police report, a letter from an attorney or simply a worker’s own statement that he or she needed time off. Employers generally will be required to grant the time off. Penalties and damages await companies that ignore the new law.


AZ Adopts Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

Many people believe their heirs will inherit their digital photos, business documents, social media accounts, websites, texts, or other digital property through their Will or by law. No.

Prior to the governor signing the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADAA) in May, companies that store those assets such as Facebook, Google or Yahoo, determined who could receive the items if a person became deceased or incapacitated. The website’s terms-of-service agreements superseded Wills and trusts preventing heirs from gaining access to the digital property. Under the new law, a fiduciary or other person with legal authority to manage another person’s property will have the ability to access and distribute the deceased or incapacitated person’s digital assets. It appears the legislation is effective August 6, 2016.

FADAA provides a three-tiered system for distributing digital assets. First, if the company holding the digital assets, like Facebook, provides an online tool that allows the user to name another person to have access to the user’s digital assets, FADAA makes the user’s online instructions legally enforceable.

Second, if the company does not provide an online planning tool, or if the user does not use it, the user may give legally enforceable directions for the disposition of digital assets in a Will, trust, power of attorney or other written record.

Third, if the user has not provided any direction, either online or in an estate plan, the terms-of-service for the user’s account will determine whether a fiduciary may access the user’s digital assets.

If the terms-of-service do not address fiduciary access, the default rule will be to require that the company holding the digital assets to provide a catalogue of the communications showing the addresses of the sender and recipient, and the date and time the message was sent.  However, if the decedent has an estate plan, power of attorney or notarized written statement, they can direct the company to give the fiduciary full access to the content to distribute to named heirs.

To obtain the digital assets, the fiduciary must send a request to the company with a certified copy of the document granting the fiduciary authority, such as a letter of appointment, court order, or certification of trust. Thus, individuals should make a provision in their Will, trust, power of attorney or other written document to distribute digital assets.  They should also be aware that any directions made through an on-line tool will supersede their trust or Will.