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9 Common Estate Planning Questions

common estate planning questions-min

Movies and TV shows commonly portray families fighting over someone’s estate after they have passed away. What this doesn’t show, however, is that there is an easy way to avoid this struggle.

Meeting with an estate planning attorney and creating a plan for the future will ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and that there will be no need to tear the family apart.  

To better understand estate planning and the right path for you, here are the most common estate planning questions:

1. What is estate planning and why should I do it?

Estate planning means creating several documents to protect your personal property and assets. It also makes clear your wishes after you pass away or are no longer able to care for yourself. It also indicates who should take care of your estate in the future and who you want to benefit from your assets after you are gone.

It is important because if you do not make a plan, your heirs and beneficiaries may have to go through a lengthy and expensive process to show that they are beneficiaries of your estate.

2. What is the difference between a will and a trust?

A Will, also known as a last will and testament, is a legally binding document that expressly states how you want your estate to be distributed after you pass away. A will is not exempt from the probate process (more on this below). A trust is a document that creates a fiduciary relationship that allows a third party to handle your estate on behalf of your beneficiaries.

3. What do I need to know about wills in Nevada?

While you can make a will without a lawyer in Nevada, it is not always recommended. There are several steps that you need to take to make sure your will is valid.

You need two witnesses who are not beneficiaries. You need to make sure you sign the will. You do not need to have it notarized, however, doing so will help speed up the process after you are gone because this creates a self-proving will. This means that the court will not have to take certain steps to validate that this will was created and signed by you.

Nevada allows for wills to be electronic and they can be changed or revoked. There are certain laws that must be followed if you want to cancel or rewrite your will.  

4. What are the types of trusts in Nevada?

There are many options for trust creation in Nevada. Every trust has to be either revocable or irrevocable. If it is revocable, it can be changed at any time. If it is irrevocable, it cannot be changed and the terms will be enforced as soon as the document is signed.

One common type of trust is the living trust. This is where the person making the trust can still exercise control over their assets while they are alive but the trust will manage the whole of the estate. Other types of trusts include trusts for minors, special needs trusts, and marital trusts. 

5. What is probate?

After death, your estate will go into probate unless you took steps to help avoid the process. Probate is a court-monitored procedure with certain steps your assets must go through before they can be released to your heirs or beneficiaries.

Some of these steps include authenticating any will, locating and determining the value of all assets, paying bills and creditors, and then distributing the funds and closing the estate. 

Here’s additional information on what is probate and the probate process in Nevada.

6. Can I avoid probate?

The probate process can be costly and last a long time. There are certain ways to help ensure that your heirs will not have to go through it.

First, several types of accounts already name beneficiaries and are not subject to the probate process. These include retirement accounts, life insurance, and bank account funds that are designated as payable-on-death.

The second main way to avoid probate is to create a trust that includes as much of your property and assets that are allowable. Any part of your estate that is in a trust will not be subject to probate laws.

7. How does Power of Attorney work?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legally binding document that gives someone else the authority to manage your affairs on your behalf when you don’t have time or the capacity to handle them yourself.

In Nevada, there are two types: durable and conventional. A durable POA is common during estate planning. The purpose is to grant broad authority to someone to take care of your affairs if you become incapacitated. It is valid until death.

A conventional POA authorizes someone to work on your behalf for certain transactions. These are often limited in scope and time duration.

8. Do I need an Advanced Health Care Directive? 

Yes, advanced health care directives benefit everyone. This is true even if you are young and healthy. The purpose of the directive is to make it clear how you want medical decisions to be made regarding your future.

It is possible to change your plan if your wishes change. These decisions include whether you want to be on prolonged care or if you want medical staff to conduct every measure possible to try to resuscitate you if the need arises. The advanced health care directive can be included in a living will or a durable POA for healthcare.

9. What does “intestate” mean?

Intestate means not having a Will before you pass away. Usually, the court will select someone to be in charge of the estate on your behalf. All assets and property will need to be calculated. Creditors and debts will have to be paid before your remaining assets can be distributed. Then, the remaining assets will be distributed according to the intestate laws of the state.

In Nevada, there is a set of rules that designate who should become a beneficiary. For example, if the estate is less than $100,000, then it is “set aside” for the spouse and any minor children. If there is only one child, the spouse gets half the estate and the child gets the other half. There are different rules for someone dying intestate without a spouse or without any children. 

Free Consultation with an Estate Planning Attorney

If you have additional estate planning questions that were not covered in this guide or would like to discuss your estate planning options, please call our law firm in Las Vegas to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.

Our free consultations are available (1) over the phone, (2) via video conferencing, (3) in the client’s own home, or (4) at one of our conveniently located offices.