Estate planning in Nevada involves the management, transference, and distribution of your real and personal property to avoid tax liabilities, probate, and disputes upon your death or incapacity. Proper planning can provide for the caring and financial support of your children and others, as well as expressing your wishes regarding life-prolonging measures if you become incapacitated.
Creating a Will
A will demonstrates how you want your property to be distributed on your passing; it can be revoked or modified during your lifetime. If you die intestate, or without a will, the state of Nevada will appoint an administrator and distribute your assets according to the state’s succession laws that may not be as you intended, and which may invite family disputes.
A will should include the following:
- Property distribution
- Provisions for children
- Executor, and an alternative, to administer the estate
- Funeral arrangements
- Simple trusts
Probate is a legal process that determines the validity of a will, appoints an executor to administer the estate, and distributes the estate’s assets to the heirs after all taxes and creditors’ claims are paid. Even with a will and other planning tools, probate may not be avoided completely, especially in large estates, but there are ways to dispose of assets during your lifetime to avoid probate, including:
Also known as inter vivos trusts, these instruments transfer assets and title into a trust and allow you to name yourself as trustee without relinquishing control of your assets. You also name a successor trustee to manage the estate on your incapacity or death. Trusts avoid probate, shield assets from creditors, are private, and may avoid heavy tax consequences.
Joint ownership of real or personal property with a right of survivorship allows title to automatically pass to the surviving joint owner on your death. Joint bank accounts are another example.
Life estates enable a person to possess and occupy land for the duration of someone else’s life. When that person dies, full title reverts to the original owner or someone designated to take title.
Special purpose trusts
A Totten Trust is an informal trust with a bank, credit union or brokerage firm known as a transfer-on-death account with a named beneficiary. A Special Needs Trust allows disabled persons to have assets set aside for them without affecting their receipt of public benefits.
Nevada has a small estate exemption from formal probate for estates valued at $20,000 or less where the estate may be distributed by filing an affidavit showing right to assets. A simplified administration is allowed for property valued up to $100,000.
Financial Power of Attorney
This is a legal document that delegates the handling of your affairs to an agent. Only a durable power of attorney takes effect immediately and continues in full force and effect if you become incapacitated. It is revocable at any time if you are mentally capable and upon your death.
Also known as a health care directive, this document sets forth your wishes regarding end-of-life health measures.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
A health care power of attorney appoints someone to make health care decisions for you once you are incapacitated. Forms for use in Nevada are available online for a fee.
Additional Planning Considerations
Most individuals should have some of the these plans for distributing their estates, but there are also other considerations:
- Estate taxes: Only very large estates valued at $5.25 million for 2013 are subject to federal estate taxes.
- Life insurance: Life insurance can provide a valuable financial cushion if your children, spouse, or other dependents need support in the long term. If you have other sources of benefits such as a pension, group life insurance, or large IRA, insurance may be an unneeded expense.
- Business succession: Your business should have a prearranged method of distributing the business interests on your death or retirement like a buy-sell agreement or trust, or a family limited partnership structure.
Talk to an Estate Planning Attorney
State and federal estate laws are always changing. Consider talking to a Nevada estate planning attorney to ensure your assets, personal medical issues, and financial affairs are properly managed.