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Using a TOD deed to avoid probate

Nevada residents who intend to have their assets given to their offspring upon death and who have listed them as the beneficiaries on their investments have taken the right steps. They may have also complete a will that leaves all of their assets to their children. However, they may want to consider a transfer on death, or TOD, deed for the home and use a TOD designation on the vehicle's title to avoid the probate process.

Residents should keep in mind that a will is a mechanism that is used to control probate assets, which are assets that are in the name of the decedent only and have not been given any beneficiary designations. In the case of the parents who want to give their home or vehicle to their child, the home and vehicle are considered to be probate assets as they are only in the parents' name. Non-probate assets would include the investment assets that have beneficiary designations. Because the will only control probate assets, it does not control the investment accounts, but controls the home and vehicle.

A TOD deed allows individuals to bypass the probate process by adding beneficiaries to real estate properties without giving them ownership interests. The designated beneficiaries will obtain the property when the grantor dies, but will have no legal rights to the assets while the grantor is still alive. To add a beneficiary designation to a vehicle title, the Department of Motor Vehicles should be contacted for procedure instructions and to obtain the precise language required.

An attorney may advise clients of which estate planning tools to use to protect their assets for beneficiaries, reduce estate taxes and avoid the lengthy probate process. Assistance may be provided for will planning and establishing trusts.

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