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Las Vegas Estate Planning Law Blog

What's holding you back when it comes to estate planning?

You may answer this question by saying that you just haven't had the time to think about it. Perhaps the subject of estate planning isn't even on your radar yet because you feel you are too young to consider it.

While these seem to be perfectly logical reasons for not getting your estate planning done, they may only scratch the surface of why you really haven't done anything to prepare for your incapacitation or demise.

Why couples without kids need estate plans

Couples in Nevada and throughout the country have many reasons to create an estate plan even if they don't have children. For example, they could still have assets that they want to give to friends, family members or charitable organizations. A will can be a powerful tool to help a person transfer assets to the individuals or organization that could benefit the most from it. Without a will, assets may be distributed according to state law.

Since beneficiary designations generally trump any declarations made in a will, it's a good idea to review them on a regular basis. These designations can usually be added to life insurance policies, retirement accounts or bank accounts. Individuals who want to leave money to a school or charity could benefit from creating a charitable remainder or charitable lead trust. However, other types of trusts could also be appropriate depending on a person's needs.

Young people can benefit from estate planning

Younger people may not have put too much thought into planning for the future of their assets after they pass away. Many millennials do not yet have children, and others have accumulated little in terms of assets. While people may have investment accounts, many often struggle with student loans. People who are single with no children are generally less likely to think about making a will or completing other documents. However, adults of any age can benefit from making an estate plan, especially if they want to provide for pets or have a say in key health care decisions.

Some of the most important documents for adults of all ages and financial means are a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will. A durable power of attorney can name a trusted person to act on someone's behalf in terms of health care decisions. A living will can lay out a person's wishes for how they want their end of life decisions to be handled. Powers of attorney are not limited to health care decisions. People can also name a power of attorney for financial and other matters.

What to know about being an executor

Some Nevada residents may be asked to serve as the executor of their loved one's estate. While the job may seem to be relatively straightforward, it can be more complicated than it appears to be. An executor has many responsibilities such as collecting assets, filing tax returns and paying any taxes that the decedent owes. An executor will also need to determine if the estate needs to go through probate.

In some cases, assets may be able to avoid probate because they have beneficiary designations attached to them. Assets such as real estate may avoid going through probate depending on how they are titled. An executor will need to get several copies of a death certificate to close accounts or take other actions after an individual dies. It is a good idea to get at least five copies of a death certificate, and it may be necessary to get more depending on how complicated a person's estate is.

Determining if a living will is needed in an estate plan

Having a comprehensive estate plan is a critical step for Nevada residents. Estate planning is a vital part of ensuring that a person's assets are allocated appropriately and loved ones are taken care of. However, there are often questions about what kind of estate planning devices to use. The circumstances are essential.

Many people will think about a living will. There are important considerations to make an informed decision. A living will lists the testator's wishes beforehand to avoid having treatments that he or she might not want. With a living will, a person who suffers from a serious illness or has severe injuries and is incapacitated can have it in writing to stop treatments at a certain point.

Major tasks for the executor of the estate

Though you may feel overwhelmed by grief, you know that your recently deceased loved one left you a job to do. You may not know much about acting as the executor of his or her estate, but you likely do understand the importance of the role. You may feel honored that your loved one trusted you to this position, and you undoubtedly want to complete the tasks associated with it in the best manner possible.

You may want to start by gaining information on the probate process. As the executor, you have the obligation of ensuring that the process is completed successfully and that any loose ends regarding your loved one's estate are handled. What could that involve?

Comparing the benefits of wills and trusts

One of the most important parts of planning for the future is having a comprehensive estate plan. Nevada residents who want to ensure their loved ones are cared for and their assets are allocated according to their wishes should think about wills and trusts. The individual goals and circumstances will be fundamental factors in deciding which to choose.

People will generally place greater emphasis on either a will or trust. The function of the will or trust is imperative. A relatively straightforward strategy is to have the assets in the testator’s name and distribute the assets in a will. Another option is to formulate a revocable living trust where the trust agreement will dictate the distribution.

Creditors claims, tax issues may affect Epstein estate

Many people in Nevada may be aware of the Jeffrey Epstein case, in which the wealthy financier committed suicide in a New York jail where he was facing trial on sex trafficking charges. Epstein prepared a will and a trust two days before his August 10 death, but there are a number of questions hanging over his estate. With a value of over $577 million, it is well above the estate and gift tax exemption of $11.4 million.

First, the timing of the when the will and the trust were prepared may raise concerns. However, one of the biggest problems may be that his alleged victims might sue the estate. Having assets in a trust may not offer protection. It would need to be an irrevocable trust to protect assets from creditors, and even irrevocable trusts are not immune to challenges. If a person expects lawsuits and tries to create a trust to protect assets from those lawsuits, this is generally considered fraudulent behavior.

Becoming an estate administrator when there is no will

One function of a will is to appoint someone to be executor of the estate. If a person dies without a will, which is known as dying "intestate," someone still needs to be appointed to administer the estate. While Nevada may have specific laws about classes of people who cannot serve as an executor or administrator, in general, there are several steps a person must go through to assume this position.

Generally, a spouse has the first right of refusal followed by the children. If there are no immediate family members or these individuals decline, another family member may be appointed. The court will decide who will take the position if family members are unable to agree. Spouses and children may need to sign a waiver to allow someone else to become estate administrator. Probate will most likely happen in the county that was the residence of the decedent, so it is necessary to get filing requirements and timelines from that county court.

Pour-over wills and trusts

Trusts have become the gold standard for many people in Nevada when it comes to making plans for the future. They can be used not only to set up advantageous tax structures during the creator's lifetime but also to pass on key assets after death. Trusts have several advantages for the estate planning process. They provide a higher level of control and specificity about how assets are distributed. In addition, they provide significantly more privacy. Unlike wills that move through the probate courts, trusts are handled as private matters. Trusts also provide greater abilities to create ongoing funds and generational wealth to support future family members, charities or philanthropic work.

In addition, trusts can be used to pass on assets to minor children while protecting their interests until they come of age. Special trusts can be used to give an inheritance to people with special needs without hurting their eligibility for important government benefits, including housing and health care support. However, estate owners may also want to consider a will when they put a trust in place.

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