Why estate planning matters

Despite the importance of creating an estate plan, it is something that many people in Nevada and elsewhere put off for as long as possible. An estate plan can provide instructions for how a person’s assets should be distributed after he or she passes. It can also provide instructions related to the management of a person’s finances or medical care. A comprehensive plan may allow surviving family members to avoid going through the probate process or paying a large estate tax bill.

At a minimum, a person should have a will. This document appoints an individual to represent the estate after he or she passes, and it can also name a guardian for a minor child. It may be worthwhile to add a personal property memorandum to cover any property that isn’t expressly listed in the will itself.

A living will can include instructions about how individuals want to be treated as they die. For instance, it may be possible to refuse to be put on a ventilator or to be fed through a tube. Trusts can be used to avoid probate and otherwise make the transfer of assets easier. A durable power of attorney allows a designated agent to make decisions on an incapacitated person’s behalf. The power of attorney may also receive access to a person’s medical records and other important information.

While a will may be enough to meet a person’s estate planning needs, more can be done to ensure that a person’s legacy is intact after passing on. An attorney may explain the potential benefits of a will, trust or power of attorney document. He or she may also help a person create an estate plan document or review those that are in place. Estate plan reviews will ideally take place on an annual basis.

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