AESS's First Time Visitor Center
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(for Arizona Estates Only)

The Anchor Holds
A Helping HandRegardless if you were personally invited by E-mail, postcard or letter, or you have come by your own initiative or online search -- we want to say "Thank You" for coming to the centerAnd, we want to welcome you to the best free information site pertaining to settling Arizona Estates both in or out of trust.

This website is sponsored by Financial Strategies, Inc., a long term financial services corporation domiciled in Arizona and first incorporated in 1990. FSI offers multiple financial products and services to clientele all around the United States and to ex pats in foreign countries.

First, know we offer a helping hand to assist you in your estate settlement process now in front of you. Using our firm as an alternative to a law firm will help you reduce stress and simplify the work. And since most of our actual settlement cases allow you as our client to deal with just one firm and adviser, both time and money will be saved over the "traditional" method of hiring a law firm and paying large retainers for a year or two.

We always will recommend outside services and advisers, including legal advisers, whenever an area of finance or estate situation dictates additional help is necessary. In the majority of our estate settlement cases, this is a rare event. But when it applies, we co-ordinate outside services when desired or necessary. Sometimes it is in an area of having estate artifacts or art inventoried. Or obtaining a legal opinion before moving forward. It may be something as simple as having the estate home cleaned prior to listing for sale. Just know our
concierge services include handling ALL your requests and needs and our resources and experience in estate settlements has now reached the 40+ year mark for experience and practice.

We extend a hand to help you and keep it extended even if you try this on your own first, and later find you need some help. Regardless of your needs during this loss -- a spouse, parent, sibling or other loved one -- we are sensitive to your need for support, not stress and guarantee professional conduct and help each step of the journey now awaiting you.  Just tell us how we can help you or ask questions as you desire at this early stage. We will oblige every request if at all possible. 

Why Consider a Non-lawyer Professional Instead of a Lawyer?

M.D. Anderson, President of Financial Strategies Inc. wants you to discover why his estate settlement/financial advisory services are a smart alternative to law firm estate settlement services that almost always result in a large bill which then results in much less of the deceased estate owner's assets ending up in the intended heirs hands. There is no doubt that his reputation is paramount for you to consider hiring him instead of a lawyer.  Please take the time to explore his Testimonials and what actual clients think of him or click on the picture below:

Client Testimonials

Another reason to choose M.D. is that few lawyers practicing in Arizona are multi-licensed and if so, they don't necessarily practice in the estate settlement service arena. Mr. Anderson and/or his firm are multi-licensed to be able to give you credible help in preparing necessary estate settlement legal documents, list for sale all estate or trust owned real estate (residential, commercial, retirement accounts/IRA's, farms and land), give settlement advice on insurance products such as annuities, life and health insurance products. (Including assisting in final medical expenses and/or claims for death benefits)

Additionally, M.D. is nationally known and quoted in various national publications as an inherited IRA and estate expert. If your estate or decedent has large qualified plans such as IRA's (and prior Inherited IRA's), 401-k employer plans, etc. -- having an expert giving you advice in this area of tax consulting could be the difference between making a big mistake as estate manager or administrator by cashing the plan in versus learning how to stretch the payments for decades to listed beneficiaries.  And, if the IRA type plan is payable to a living trust...  as quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Anderson declares it "essential to seek help BEFORE you do anything!"

M.D. is also a professional estate accountant and registered IRS tax preparer and often handles complicated estate tax issues for his clients.  Because of this, M.D. and his firm (FSI) are also approved and appointed IRS ERO's (Electronic Return Originators)

Lastly, timing and location matter. M.D. makes it easy. If you desire, he will come to YOUR location at YOUR time schedule! (subject to his schedule)  Or, you can schedule a meeting in his office for the family to first meet and be given basic guidance instructions in settling an estate with the least amount of expense, delay and stress. 

Our research on Arizona estates...

Arizona Estate Settlement Services Research Results

Of the first 100 recorded Arizona deaths in our research which started in 2009, we found the following:

63 or 63 % Left a Surviving Spouse and:

Of these, 23 or 36.50 % also left the main home "in trust", so that it can  normally (and easily) avoid probate on the second spouse's death.

The other 40 or 63.50 % left their main home in "joint tenancy with right of survivorship", thus risking probate on the eventual death of the surviving spouse. (if not changed). This risk will not abate without additional action by the surviving spouse, or by their General Power of Attorney Agent! 

37 or 37 % Died Without a Surviving Spouse (Single) and:

Of these, 14 or 37.84 % died leaving the main home "in trust", so the family home (and most likely most or all other assets) will normally avoid the probate process now. These homes should be clear to list and sell, or divide amongst the trust estate heirs without any delay.

Sadly, we found the remaining 23 estate homes or 62.16 % died and left their main home in "fee simple" without using a beneficiary deed to avoid probate. Why?
These estate homes were over the $75,000 limit  (now $100,000 in 2014) and are now required to enter probate at this time!  They are not free to list and sell, or divide amongst the trust estate heirs until the probate court authorizes it!  Also, other estate assets may also now be under probate court control...

How Many Died Intestate (without a Last Will or Trust)?

Unknown (National Average is over 50%)

Saving Money Matters and Fulfills The Wishes of the Estate Owners

Saving Money MattersWe have never seen an heir who complained they "got too much" during the estate settlement. Nor did we ever create an estate plan for an FSI client that dictated to lose as much money as possible after the death paying high priced legal bills, tax bills, or becoming victims of retirement plan advice.

But, because of these real and present dangers, many heirs are extremely saddened when they finally get their estate or living trust settlement minus their share of the "lost" money paid.  Here are five danger areas every estate manager or administrator should guard against on day one of your duties:

1.  Excess legal fees from law firm fees that can take 5-10% or more of money that otherwise would go to the heirs.

2.  An unnecessary 25-50% instant reduction when a large IRA is cashed in because the estate manager or administrator is not aware of "stretch" IRA options that create a tax deferred inherited IRA for any heir that desires one. Or that spousal rollovers may be better than an inherited IRA for surviving spouses after the Supreme court ruled July 12, 2014 adversely against them for asset protection purposes.

3. Another 25-50% reduction when estate assets are listed on final tax returns as "taxable" because the estate manager or administrator is not aware of "stepped up" IRS capital gains rules that apply to decedent estates.

4.  Market loss potential when variable equity type investments of the decedent are allowed to run on often without professional management (advisory contracts die with the decedent and we have seen millions lost this way over the years).  Your job as estate manager or administrator is to "settle" the assets...  not make more money while risking losing money in variable investments.  Hint:  You may want to "go to cash" soon after the death.

5.  Everything else.  We have seen it over and over, so here is the list after 40 years of practice:  Theft of cash, failure to protect property by informing the insurance agent of the death, leaving utilities on for months or years, failing to clean the home and stage for sale for a higher price, accepting low offers for property being sold including automobiles, favoring certain heirs with gifts of assets not approved by the decedent, asset damages due to neglect, excess fees charged for administrator tasks or expense reimbursements, failure to inventory assets or appraise for higher values on art, artifacts, memorabilia or other collectibles including guns. And much much more...

Now, since you have assets to protect right and heirs to please, you do need help at some level and that is where we come in. You may even have a dual role as the estate manager as well as being an heir. Regardless, the treasure chest of your loved one recently lost has been firmly placed on your doorstep for administration and distribution. Even if you are a surviving spouse, chances are high that on top of the strain of the death of your spouse, you must now try to figure out, just what is inside that treasure chest. 

Understanding private mortgages, options, or numismatic coins may be over your head, if the treasure chest now in your possession contains sophisticated type investments.  Even the estate home or other real estate may be a challenge in light of what you read and hear on the news in our local communities. Being forced to manage something you haven't had much experience in is a starting realization. And a time to recognize that you are also empowered to seek professional help.  So, if you are keeping notes, please note that the deceased estate owner (or your spouse or other love one you have lost), did authorize you to get the help you need in his or her legal documents.  (Or you will soon be authorized by court order if now subject to probate)

Also, regardless of what kind of treasures you are now responsible for, we have to address the quantity of what you find as well.  For some, the estate treasure chest may be full and running over. For others, you may find it lacking in liquidity or even lacking in content due to recent financial downturns.  Regardless, we have designed our "Steps" process for you to follow our professional estate administration process. The FSI Steps system will reveal some things you may not know that you are required to review and it will also serve as your guide. When step 50 is completed, the process ends.

We know and understand that things may feel a bit unwieldy if it is your first estate settlement. Just as someone can walk into a do it yourself hardware store and purchase bricks, mortar, and all the other tools to build a nice brick wall, few can actually do it right without proper training and experience.  The Steps may guide some wanting to do the work themselves and they are provided as a general legal guide of necessary work common in Arizona estate settlements. However, unless you are trained and experienced to do this all on your own without outside help, you may be risking much more then you realize if you mess something up and an outside heir (not you or your spouse) doesn't like your work.

If your finished work could end up looking like this picture (to the left), we must also  remind you that estate settlement procedures are sensitive, detail oriented and precise in how you perform them.  One badly laid brick in a wall can turn the remaining work into a disaster!!! The same can be true in just one misstep in doing your own estate settlement work all alone. 

We clearly suggest you use the Steps as your guide while entrusting the difficult parts to our firm as a law firm alternative professional advisory option. This way, everyone will be happy when you are done.  And, some will admire the finished work instead of try to sue you because you didn't know what you were doing.

Note: If you were personally invited to this website, please call us if you aren't sure which category your estate is now in. Though we can not give you a legal opinion, we can give you the results of our research pertaining to your estate for you to then consider your alternatives. Our research included any property owned by the decedent and it's current value, liabilities, etc.

Arizona Estate Settlement Hotline Number:


Before you review the first 8 of our 50 Steps FSI estate settlement process, be sure to read the story of Dr. Frances Horwich, more commonly known as  "MISS FRANCES" on the original NBC children's show "Ding Dong School" popular in the early 50's. It will give you necessary perspective to get help, but also "shop around" so you don't get overcharged!

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Disclaimer: Financial Strategies, Inc. and Michael D. Anderson are each AZCLDP licensed in the state of Arizona as certified legal document preparers.  The firm and Mr. Anderson can give general legal information under his licensing but can not give legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact your current lawyer or request a referral from Mr. Anderson.  AZCLDP's practicing in the state of Arizona are licensed and governed by a supervisory board of the Arizona Supreme Court.  Information you give to AZCLDP's is confidential but is not protected in a "privileged" way as it is with a practicing and licensed Arizona lawyer. AZCLDP fees vary between firms and price is no guarantee of actual performance, quality of services or accuracy of legal documents created. But this is also true with practicing lawyers as well. An AZCLDP can prepare any legal document required for filing in any Arizona court, including probate court but they can not represent you in formal probate or any other court hearing or event.  State provided "do it yourself" (self service) forms and procedures exist for simplified estate administration online should you desire to settle an estate without outside help or assistance. Whether you use an AZCLDP to prepare custom probate or other estate administration forms or do it yourself -- YOU will be required to file and pay all court filing fees when necessary, if not represented by legal counsel. Financial Strategies, Inc. and Michael D. Anderson are also licensed insurance agents and the firm serves as a broker for numerous life and health insurance carriers for Arizona residents as well as other state residents from time to time.  Review of all insurance, annuity, health, or other contracts affecting the estate or estate heirs is allowed in the estate settlement process and advisory and claim filing advice as well because of this licensing.  Additionally, Mr. Anderson is a licensed Realtor® with Realty One Group in Tempe, Arizona.  Reference to this employing real estate broker is a distinctly separate service offered by Mr. Anderson as an individual employed by said broker and not by his own firm, Financial Strategies, Inc.  Said broker is not associated in any way with the services being offered on this website and by the firm Financial Strategies, Inc. other than assisting in selling your residential and commercial estate properties. Any link on this website to said broker or profiling Mr. Anderson's Probate/Trust/Estate Real estate services are and remain separate from all other services profiled herein.  Mr. Anderson is also a registered tax preparation firm with the Internal Revenue Service and practices as an IRS corporate tax preparation firm under Financial Strategies, Inc.  Further, Mr. Anderson is an associate of a long term international law firm whose principle is a licensed D.C. lawyer.  Said firm serves as legal advisor to Mr. Anderson and Financial Strategies, Inc.  If any conflict of interest should arise in a client relationship regarding this relationship, it will be disclosed when a referral is made to a local outside law firm to carry on the required estate settlement process for retained clients. Client testimonials are produced based on actual letters or emails received by Financial Strategies, Inc.  Lastly, Mr. Anderson is a former mortgage loan officer and a former securities registered representative/Investment Advisor Representative and this information is being disclosed to show the full circle of his experience and learned knowledge in his career. Note: To date, Mr. Anderson and his 24+ year old Arizona corporation (firm) have never had a regulatory complaint in ANY of the areas he has practiced in or been licensed in to date.  (Statement made as of "Last update" date shown below)

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Last Updated: 07/08/2016