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Estate planning and passing assets to loved ones

Some Nevada residents might think they do not need to do any estate planning because they are not wealthy. However, it is important for all adults. Without proper planning, fees and court costs can consume assets, and without a plan, the state decides what happens to those assets.

People may want to consider what assets they can pass down without using a will since this can be challenged in court. Wills will generally have to go through probate before assets can be distributed. A person can name beneficiaries for assets such as retirement accounts and insurance policies that can pass outside of probate. It is also important to keep these updated so that the beneficiary named is not deceased or an ex-spouse.

One option for people is to gift part of the estate while still alive. Starting in 2018, a person can give away $15,000 per year while couples can give away $30,000. People who would like to fund a grandchild's college education can create a 529 savings account and make contributions to it that help them save on taxes. Some people may want to consider vehicles such as a qualified personal residence trust, which puts the home in a trust. A charitable remainder trust can pay income to beneficiaries. Finally, people should consider documents such as a health care proxy that appoints someone to make medical decisions if they become incapacitated.

While there are forms for do-it-yourself estate plans available, an estate planning attorney may be able to help a person prepare documents and avoid errors. Mistakes in legal terminology or common errors such as creating a trust and then failing to fund it could result in a person's wishes not being carried out. People may also want to talk to family members about the estate plan to reduce the likelihood that it will be challenged or misunderstood.

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