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Estate plans that prepare for incapacity

Some married people in Nevada might think they have a well-prepared estate plan when they own a home in joint tenancy with survivorship. They might have a similar arrangement for other assets such as a retirement fund and some investments.

The problem with this arrangement is that one spouse may die and the other might become incapacitated. The incapacitated spouse could be incapable of preparing an estate plan to pass on these assets to other loved ones. Furthermore, the incapacitated spouse might need a guardian appointed by the court to manage finances and health care. If the incapacitated spouse dies, the property will be divided among relatives according to state law.

Instead, people could create a will that names who assets will pass to. However, the will may need to go through probate, and it could take some time. Another option might be to use beneficiary designations and transfer on death deeds for property so that it immediately passes to others. The former can be used on assets such as life insurance and retirement accounts while the latter could be used for real property. Payable on death titles could be attached to bank accounts and other financial accounts.

A person who is preparing an estate plan might want to discuss these options with an attorney to decide which vehicles would be best in any particular circumstances. For example, a person may decide to use a last will and testament despite the probate process, or a trust could be useful in some estates. People should name contingent beneficiaries and prepare for other situations in which an heir might be unable to inherit an asset. The person could also prepare a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney that could appoint people to manage finances and health care if the person becomes incapacitated.

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