The importance of an estate plan

Many people question the necessity of an estate plan and often conclude that the size of their estate does not warrant any future planning. However, estate planning is no longer only considered a vehicle for the wealthy and is used by persons of all income brackets to ensure their possessions go where they want upon their death and how and what decisions will be made upon your incapacity or death.

In Nevada, if you die without a Will, Nevada law dictates who will represent your estate as the Administrator, and more importantly, who will receive the assets of your estate upon your death. With a Will, you have the ability to nominate a Personal Representative and specifically detail who will ultimately receive your assets. While this may accomplish your goal in ensuring your property goes where you desire, your Personal Representative will still have to go through probate, a costly and time-consuming Court process. In Nevada, there are several different levels of probate depending on the size of a decedent’s estate at the time of their death. Within each level of probate, additional Court involvement is required, necessarily entailing higher costs and expense to your estate. In addition, Nevada law entitles attorneys compensation based on a percentage of the size of the probate estate. Said fees are paid out of your estate prior to distribution, therein reducing the size of your estate to ultimately be received by the persons you desire.

Kyle Winter

Fortunately, there are several choices available to someone who desires to establish an estate plan, the most popular being a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust is an effective tool for preserving privacy, eliminating the need for probate and preparing your estate for ease of transition upon your death. Similar to a Will, a trust is established by written agreement and assets are then transferred into your name as Trustee of your trust. While a Trust accomplishes the same goal as a Will in that it permits you to nominate where your property will be distributed and who will be in charge of making such distributions, property passing by virtue of a Trust does not have to go through the probate court process, therein saving your beneficiaries the time consuming and expensive probate court process.

In addition to your Trust document itself, a typical estate plan includes documents such as your durable powers of attorney (for health and for financial matters), as well as directives regarding your personal care and desires during your life. Often, these documents can be prepared for less than one-third of the expense associated with a normal probate.

Finally, your estate plan can grow and change with you. Creating an estate plan lays out the foundation for your affairs, and such foundation can be amended or modified as often as is necessary to reflect your then existing desires. When you are unable to speak for yourself, your estate plan will speak for you.

Kyle Winter is a Nevada native and attorney at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm in Carson City. His areas of practice include Family Law, Estate Planning, Guardianships, and Probate Law.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment