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Estate plans for all income levels

Some people in Nevada may think that the word "estate" in "estate planning" implies that a person needs to be wealthy in order to have an estate plan. However, an estate plan is important for all adults regardless of their income or assets. All estate plans are different, but they may have some elements in common.

For example, every plan should have a living will, a medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. A living will outlines a person's wishes for medical care and might include information on what kind of life-saving measures a person wants. A medical power of attorney chooses someone to make medical decisions if the person is unable to do so due to incapacity, and a financial power of attorney appoints someone to handle finances. People should be sure they understand the implications of adding a relative to a bank account or as joint owner on a home. If that relative runs into financial problems, the bank account or home could be seized by creditors.

A will or trust is a better way to ensure that loved ones get a person's assets. With a trust, assets may pass more quickly to beneficiaries without going through probate. However, there are also costs associated with setting up and maintaining a trust.

An attorney can discuss estate planning options with a client including the advantages and disadvantages of a trust or will. A trust can be used in many different ways. For example, the client might be concerned about a relative who is disabled and relies on government assistance. That relative could lose those benefits upon receiving an inheritance, but a special needs trust can provide for the relative without affecting those benefits.

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