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Your plan or the state's: That is the question

You may be one of many people in Nevada who have never executed an estate plan. However, did you know this does not mean you don't have one? In fact, whether you have personally designed your own plan or not, there are default estate rules that activate at the time of your death. This means a plan will be carried out; it is just a matter of whether it will be the one you chose or the one the state has determined appropriate.

Do I really need to bother if the state will take care of it anyway?

One of the main differences between your life and that of a major celebrity is chances are minimal that your personal financial information will ever be considered headline news. This is obviously not the case where Hollywood superstars are concerned, as fans worldwide pay close attention to anything written about the personal lives of their favorites stars.

In recent years, several actors, singers and other entertainers have died. Soon afterward, media explosions occurred with stories regarding contentious battles over mass fortunes and high net worth assets these stars had acquired in their lifetimes. Because they left no plans for their estates, family members, managers, and various acquaintances began to squabble as to who would be the main beneficiaries. To prevent such disputes, it is often best to think ahead and design a thorough plan that includes several types of documents.

Thorough estate plans often include several specific items

A main benefit of controlling your own estate is the fact that you may customize your plan according to your immediate and long-term needs and goals. The following is a list of documents often included in a basic estate plan:

  • Last will and testament: This is the crucial document to ensuring your assets are distributed to persons of your own choosing.
  • Living will: Sometimes called an advanced medical directive, you can provide specific instructions regarding urgent medical decisions that certain conditions or incapacitation may render you unable to express in an emergency (or long-term) situation.
  • Financial Power of Attorney: You can also name a trusted individual to oversee your financial affairs and make decisions on your behalf if you become physically or mentally unable to do so.
  • Living trust: This may save your loved ones time and money by helping your estate avoid probate.

These and other available documents allow you to protect your interests and ensure that your wishes are carried out rather than allowing the state to determine what happens to the property and assets you likely spent years working and saving to acquire.

Support throughout the process

Even if you execute a thorough estate plan today, it is merely the beginning of an ongoing process. In other words, estate planning is not usually a one-time act. Life circumstances often change, and you could benefit from reviewing your plan periodically, and making any changes or upgrades necessary to align with both your current state in life and your goals for your family's future. Changes in income, marriages, adoptions and various other life events may impact your estate portfolio.

An easy way to avoid complications and remain updated regarding current estate planning laws is to hire an attorney to guide you through the process. From clarifying state laws, determining which documents best align with your needs, and being on-hand to offer advice or make adjustments, an experienced estate and probate attorney can help you accomplish your goals in a timely and economically feasible fashion.

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