Don’t Make These Common, Expensive Mistakes:
How to Leave Assets to Minor Children

Most parents want to make sure their children are provided for in the event something happens to them while the children are still minors. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and good friends sometimes want to leave gifts to beloved young children too. Unfortunately, good intentions and poor planning often have unintended results. Don’t make these common, expensive mistakes. Instead, here’s how to both protect and provide for the children you love.

Common Mistake: Don’t Use a Simple Will to Leave Assets to Minor Children

Many parents think if they name a guardian for their minor children in their wills and something happens to them, the named person will automatically be able to use the inheritance to take care of the children. But that's not what happens:

Most parents would prefer that their children inherit at a later age, but with a simple will, you have no choice; once the child reaches the age of majority, the court must distribute the entire inheritance in one lump sum.

Common Mistake: Avoid Court Guardianship

A court guardianship for a minor child is very similar to one for an incompetent adult.

All of these expenses are paid from the inheritance, and because the court must do its best to treat everyone equally under the law, it is difficult to make exceptions for each child's unique needs.

Correct Action: To Protect the Child and the Assets, Use a Trust

Instead of using a simple will, a better option is to set up a children's trust in a will:

The best option is a revocable living trust, the preferred option for many parents and grandparents:

For many folks, the absolute best solution is to keep the assets in trust for their lifetime or until assets get spent down. Assets that are trust protected are there for your child, but can’t be taken from them. Your children will grow up and need the continued protections you can provide in a revocable living trust.

While we’d all like for our lives to turn out exactly as we had planned when we were in our 20s, this is highly unlikely. Life can change in the blink of an eye and it’s unrealistic to expect that an estate plan drafted by you in your early thirties will still reflect your wishes as a 50 or 60-year-old. Learn more about how to legally prepare for your future with the Reno estate planning lawyers at Anderson, Dorn & Rader by assessing the Johnson family’s history with estate planning below.

Meet The Johnson Family

Patricia and Sal Johnson married at the ages of 23 and 26. Just a few years later, their first child, Simon, was born which prompted them to get an estate plan in place. Just three years later, their second child, Pamela, was born, leading them to update their estate plan to include both children. 

Later in life, the couple attended one of our estate planning seminars, which encouraged them to update their estate plan yet again, this time with a trust-based plan in place that will not only protect themselves, but also their children, grandchildren, and even the family dog, Rudy. 

However, rather than taking part in client maintenance opportunities that allow the Johnson’s estate planning lawyers to keep their plans up-to-date, they chose to just call in when they wanted to make amendments. This resulted in the estate plan going untouched for many years, and updates were never made despite their continued life changes. 

How Their Lives Have Changed in 10 Years

As stated earlier, life is going to change over time. How you choose to update your estate plan and when will help you deal with all of those changes accordingly. Here’s what’s changed in the Johnson family’s lives in the last 10 years: 

How do you think their estate plan will look now that there have been some major life changes throughout the whole family? Surely, they will need to update the estate plan to reflect these changes, which are typical of what 10 years can bring. 

What This Means For You

Now that you’ve seen how the Johnson’s lives have changed, let’s apply this to you and your family. What changes have you experienced in your life? Have you moved? Did you purchase a new home? Do you have more children or grandchildren? Have you started a business? Has anyone suffered any health problems? Do you have new accounts or investments? Do you now care for a parent, pets, or dependent children? Have you remarried, gotten divorced, or retired?

All of these factors can greatly impact your current and future estate plans, but you’ll also need to consider how the lives of those around you have changed as well. Has someone you loved died? Have friends or family named in your plan as trusted helpers moved away, or has your relationship changed? Are your children now adults and able to help you? Do you want to help with the grandchildren’s college or sports interests?

Surely, many things have changed in the past 10 years and it’s important that your estate plan reflects the changes in your personal life, financial situation, and overall goals. 

Work with Estate Planning Lawyers

To update your estate plan, or get one started, reach out to Reno estate planning lawyers Anderson, Dorn & Rader today. They’ll be able to help you define your goals and draft an estate plan that fits your specific needs. Connect with us to learn more. 

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Unexpected personal tragedies are not particularly common, but they do occur and they can dramatically change the course of a child’s life. Parents in the United States have a statutory right and responsibility to name a guardian for their child or children. If a guardian isn’t legally appointed by the parent, it becomes the responsibility of a judge to determine guardianship following the parents’ passing or incapacitation. In such instances, custody of the child may go to anyone chosen by the judge, regardless of what the parents would have wanted. 

The guardianship of a child who is originally from another country can be even more complicated to manage. A child custody attorney can help citizens and non-citizens determine proper guardianship for children in the event of their incapacitation. Learn more about guardianship in Nevada below. 

guardianship in nevada

What are your statutory rights as a non-citizen parent?

A general rule of thumb regarding guardianship in Nevada, or any state in the U.S., is that all parents have a fundamental and constitutional right to the care, custody, and control of their child. This essentially means that a parent has the right to make all decisions for their child without interference so long as they do not put the child in danger. This right was eventually extended to non-citizen parents that reside in the U.S. legally, allowing both citizen and non-citizen parents to name whomever they want as a guardian to their children—so long as they meet the state requirements. 

It’s important to note that it is not only a parent’s right to choose a guardian but also their responsibility. This is the only way to keep the courts from determining guardianship of the child.

Statutory Rights of U.S. Citizen Parents 

Children who legally reside in the U.S. as citizens but are native to another country may face further obstacles. Because it’s easier for a judge to oversee the safety and care of a child within their jurisdiction, it can be difficult to move a child to another country. To combat this, parents should be clear about who the child will live with and where (whether in the U.S. or not). 

Parents of children with attachments to other countries should always apply for dual citizenship for the home country and the United States. This will prove to the court that the parents intended for their child to have connections to their home country and provide a basis for relatives living outside of the U.S. to request guardianship assistance from their own state department. Proving dual citizenship will help the process of expatriation and ensure the child is able to travel back to their home country.

It’s also possible that a non-citizen may be appointed as the guardian of a child. However, if the parents request for the child to remain in the U.S., there is no guarantee that the guardian will be allowed to stay in the U.S due to the guardianship alone. The person who is appointed as the child’s guardian will need to become a U.S. citizen through their own legal proceedings for this to be accepted.

Guardianship Interferences 

It is possible for the law to interfere with a parent’s choice of guardianship under specific circumstances. A court may invoke the policies of “Best Interests” and protections made by the Hague Convention to retain custody of a child who would otherwise be sent to a country where they would be endangered or persecuted. While this is not very common when handling guardianship in Nevada, it is an issue that could possibly arise. 

Interim Care  

During interim periods between emigration, which can take months, a child may be stuck living in the U.S. before they can be united with their new full-time guardian. In these cases, a temporary guardian will also need to be nominated for the time being. 

guardianship in nevada

Better Understand Guardianship in Nevada with Reno Child Custody Attorneys   

The child custody attorneys, Anderson, Dorn & Rader, are here to ensure the decisions you make regarding your child’s care are kept and seen through. If you need help legally determining guardianship in Nevada for your child, connect with us today

Every February, American Heart Month begins as a friendly reminder to think about your heart health. This commemorative month was established in 1963 and prompts us to combat heart disease, the leading cause of death in America. Even with the high mortality rate of Covid-19, heart disease continues to be the dominant cause of death in the United States. Ultimately, American Heart Month is a great time to review your heart health and build healthy habits for the future. Of course, don't forget to consider who will act as your medical agent if you are unexpectedly stricken with a heart attack.

medical agent

What Is A Medical Agent?

Various states have differing titles for medical agents, including a medical power of attorney, an advanced health care directive agent, a health surrogate, a health or medical proxy, and more. Regardless of the title your state uses, this person will make all medical decisions for you if you ever become too ill to communicate your wishes. 

This person plays an essential role in making critical decisions regarding your health. Your medical agent should understand your medical wishes because they decide what care you will or won’t receive by communicating with providers caring for you. Also, keep in mind this person gains access to your private information, so you should consider all these factors before deciding who will act on your behalf.

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Factors To Consider When Choosing Your Medical Agent

1. Emotional Fitness For The Job

It is easy to assume anyone close to you is fit to be your medical agent, but this is not the case. Consider someone you know will stay level-headed in emotional situations since everyone handles stress differently. Your medical agent should be reasonably assertive because of the many family opinions and doctor recommendations they will have to navigate. This person should be comfortable silencing others opinion to focus on your wants and needs when making decisions. 

2. Geographic Proximity

Your medical agent should live close to you because something unexpected can come up at any moment. This person will have to act on your behalf quickly and efficiently so that you don’t have to wait for care if you are incapable of speaking for yourself.  

3. Willingness and Ability To Serve

It is crucial to make sure your medical agent is willing to set time aside in case of a medical emergency. Having this title is both time-consuming and emotionally draining, so reach out to the person you’d like to act as your medical agent and address any concerns. Doing this in advance will help you choose someone willing to take on this responsibility. 

4. Ability To Make Decisions In Accordance With Your Wishes

You must choose a medical agent who will make decisions following your wishes. The person you choose needs to set aside their own wants to focus on making the decisions you expressed previously. Your medical agent acts as your voice even if they don't agree with your course of action, so be sure to find someone you can trust to follow your wishes if you are incapable.

Planning for Incapacity

Who Can't Be A Medical Agent? 

Remember, even if you believe someone is right for the title, some states prohibit certain individuals from acting as a medical agent.

Minors 

Many states don’t allow minors to be patient advocates, but there can be exceptions. Also, remember not everyone over the age of 18 qualifies to act as a medical agent so talking with a professional can help clarify state restrictions. 

Health Care Providers

Not every state restricts health care providers from acting as medical agents, but most do. These restrictions can be overlooked if the health care provider is a family member, but make sure to take the proper steps to allow this. Furthermore, Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky allow your health care provider to act as your medical agent if they are an active member of your religious organization.

Anderson, Dorn, and Rader Are Here To Help

If you haven’t decided who will act as your medical agent, Anderson, Dorn, and Rader can help determine the best fit. If you need someone to act as a backup, our attorneys are willing to build a strong relationship with you to understand your needs in case of an emergency. We will ensure that your wishes are carried out and written as required by state law. 

Contact us now to discuss how to properly name a medical agent, as well as discuss other advance care directives.

An estate plan consists of several parts and considerations, including a living trust. A living trust is a legal arrangement set up during a person’s lifetime that places their assets into a trust overseen by a trustee. The living trust also determines how the trustor’s assets will be distributed once they pass or become incapacitated. Some factors that may cause someone to create a trust range from tax benefits and avoiding probate to caring for family members with special needs. See how working with an estate planning attorney to create a living trust will help your family.

Avoid The Probate Process

Avoiding probate is the most common reason for seeking out a living trust. Probate is the courts’ process of proving a will is accepted as a valid document that can be used to effectively distribute assets. There are several reasons in which you would want to avoid probate. The first is that probate can be a costly way to transfer your assets upon death. There are multiple parties that may need to be paid out during a probate proceeding, including the court, which add up quickly. 

reno trusts

Probate is also a very lengthy process. It can take six to nine months (sometimes longer) to fully go through probate. There are many factors, documents, and people involved in the probate process, so it’s easy for complications to arise. Problems such as a contested will or an inability to find clear records of all of the deceased's assets and debts can extend this timeline.

Lastly, your probate proceedings will be publicly recorded for the court, meaning your case will become public knowledge and will be available to anyone. This significantly limits you and your family’s privacy which is not ideal during a family member's death.

Enjoy Tax Savings

A living trust provides tax savings to those estates that are subject to estate or gift taxes. There are many types of trusts to choose from, but the most common are irrevocable trusts and revocable trusts. A revocable living trust allows you to make amendments and changes to the documents as necessary, even during the trustor’s life. An irrevocable trust cannot be amended after the document has been signed, but it does offer significant transfer tax benefits that are not subject to the typical gift tax requirements. When you work with us, we'll make sure to align the type of trust with your family's tax-saving needs and other goals.

 

Trust or Will

Connect With Estate Planning Attorneys Anderson, Dorn & Rader

When it comes to your trust, it’s important for you to understand that a trust only controls assets that are put, or funded, into the trust. Living trusts need to be continually updated to accommodate changes such as marriage, childbirth, home purchases, and tax laws that could affect the trust. With a living trust, the trustor is able to amend the document to reflect their wishes. Because of this, it’s crucial that you work closely with your estate planning attorney to make sure your assets are properly aligned with your trust. This will not only help you get organized, but it will also make things easier for your heirs when you pass away. 

Call our office at (775) 823-9455 or visit us online at wealth-counselors.com to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Estate plans are more than your monetary net worth. Categories of your estate can include real estate, pets, possessions and all other property you own. Some people forget how priceless personal property, such as family heirlooms and keepsakes, can be to those you leave behind. 

It is important to work out what will happen to these valuable items after your death by creating an estate plan. 

What Is An Heirloom And Keepsake?

Heirlooms

Heirlooms have been passed down to family members for generations. These items can vary in monetary value, but the memories attached to them are copious, giving them an emotional and sentimental value that shouldn’t be discarded or auctioned after your passing.

Keepsakes

Keepsakes are slightly different from heirlooms because they apply to specific items you owned during your life. These items can be anything from cutlery sets, furniture, or jewelry that you left behind for your family. While these valuable items only have been passed down once, they have nostalgia your family wouldn’t want to lose.

 

Keepsakes

Issues You May Face When Sorting Family Heirlooms and Keepsakes

Family members can have different values associated with certain heirlooms and keepsakes. It can be crucial to talk with each family member about their feelings and expectations towards certain items in advance. This common knowledge will help your family avoid unnecessary fighting for heirlooms or keepsakes after your death. 

It is a good idea to decide if you need to have your family heirlooms or keepsakes appraised. By doing this, you provide your heirs with the necessary documentation to understand the value of each object passed down to them. Plus, you might realize you want to get some of these items insured due to their worth. Handling this before you pass will make it easier for your heirs to go through the mourning process and avoid unnecessary externalities.

Family Heirlooms and Keepsakes

How To Distribute Family Heirlooms and Keepsakes

There is no proper way to distribute these valuable and irreplaceable items after your death. Of course, these valuables could end up lost or undervalued if they end up in the wrong hands when there is no plan in place for family heirlooms and keepsakes.

Here are some ways to distribute these precious items to your heirs.

Equal Distribution 

Some people prefer to equally distribute heirlooms and keepsakes to their heirs by focusing on each items' monetary value. An estates planning attorney can offer you guidance when understanding the liquidity of each family heirloom and keepsake.

Personal Property Memorandum

It is important to note more than two of your heirs may desire the same heirloom or keepsake. You can resolve this dilemma before you pass by creating a personal property memorandum. This document is a chance for you to explicitly state your wishes and avoid any conflict that may come after your death. 

One benefit to this type of inheritance planning is that a property personal memorandum is referred to as your last will and identifies who is to receive said property. Also, you don't need to execute a new will or amend your trust if you decide to make modifications to which heirs receive these family heirlooms and keepsakes.

Gifting Family Heirlooms And Heirlooms During Your Life

You may prefer to gift special items to your heirs before passing away. Doing this could be a consideration if you find enjoyment in seeing how your family reacts to receiving their heirloom or keepsake. 

Of course, you don't want to forget the gift tax you may incur after giving any items to your heirs while alive. Furthermore, you may want to consider if you should factor them into what share of your estate your heirs receive after your death depending on their value.

Let An Estate Planning Attorney Help

Anderson Dorn and Rader’s attorneys have the expertise and knowledge to help you create an estate plan that considers all your assets. Family heirlooms and keepsakes are just one piece of the puzzle. Define all your wishes for what your heirs receive with an estate plan to help avoid conflict between your heirs later on.

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Many Northern Nevadans know the dangers that come along with this time of year. A 2019 statistic showed that 17% of all accidents happen during winter conditions, highlighting an increased chance for individuals to experience an accident due to extreme weather changes. Ultimately, no matter how long you’ve lived in the region, less sunlight, alongside rain, snow, and black ice creates challenges for anyone driving on the road. While no one ever thinks they will fall victim to an accident, knowing what to do after a fender bender is crucial to ensuring a headache-free experience.

Estate Planning Nevada

What To Do After A Car Accident

Following these guidelines can help you document the incident calmly and efficiently.

  1. First, check that you and all passengers in your vehicle are okay. If there seem to be any injuries, call 911 right away. You can report the accident and injuries during this time to ensure the proper first responders are sent. If for any reason, you do not have access to a phone, be sure to immediately ask any stopped witnesses or civilians to call for help.
  2. If no one is injured and you are not at risk of further danger, move all vehicles involved to a safe location. Once you are removed from further danger, exchange driver's licenses, contacts, and insurance information with every party involved.
  3. Afterward, it is a good idea to contact your local authorities if no injuries have been previously reported. No parties involved should leave until the officer shows up so that the accident can be properly evaluated. While waiting, feel free to take pictures of damages caused to all vehicles involved. The police report will help each insurance company determine who is at fault for the accident and any other injuries that may arise in the future.
  4. Finally, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. If you are in a safe place, you can contact your insurance company immediately after the accident. They offer guidance during this stressful time and can ensure that you don’t miss any steps that would have significant consequences regarding liability.

While many people believe there is no reason to immediately report minor accidents, following these steps avoids unnecessary complications and significant penalties down the road.

Estate Planning

How Car Accidents Can Impact Your Estate Planning

Healthcare decision-making.

If an accident occurs making you unable to speak or communicate decisions clearly, you will need to have someone talk to medical professionals on your behalf. This should be a previously planned and trusted individual who would be deemed your medical power of attorney. This person will arrange treatment with doctors until you regain consciousness, so it's crucial you've assigned this power to someone. Your medical power of attorney will expedite medical treatment in the case of an emergency. Furthermore, your medical power of attorney should know where to obtain a copy of this documentation to help expedite treatment.

Adequate insurance coverage.

Opting for minimum coverage can be detrimental to your savings and property in the event of a serious lawsuit. You and your car must be fully covered to prevent this from happening. Plus, you should speak to your insurance broker to find out if umbrella insurance makes sense for you. Umbrella insurance is a low-cost way to gain extra liability coverage and protect yourself from damages that may exceed the limits of your car insurance. Umbrella insurance ensures you have access to a bigger pool of money in the event of a car crash lawsuit against you, protecting your savings and future prosperity.

Be Careful of Fraudulent Transfers.

After a car accident with significant property damages and medical injuries, it may feel necessary to protect your assets from excessive lawsuit demands. You may attempt to do this by transferring funds to friends and family, but be careful because this is against the law in some states. These transfers used to protect assets won’t be ignored by the courts. If considered fraudulent, court judges have the full right and power to reverse transfers. This means that these assets can be obtained by the party in the event of a successful lawsuit against you even after being gifted to a friend or family member.

Revocable Trusts Do Not Protect Your Property from Lawsuits

Revocable trusts are used to protect your assets and trust from creditors and lawsuits after your death. Unfortunately, while some people believe that these trusts protect their assets during their life, this is a misconception and not their design. These trusts fail to completely protect your assets because you have complete control of all assets placed in a revocable trust. Your ability to control these trusts means a judge can order you to revoke the trust to pay creditors and lawsuit judgments.

adr about

Contact AD&R Now to Protect Your Estates

However, with the guidance of an experienced asset protection and estate planning attorney, you can use properly designed strategies to enhance protection for your assets and property. That means taking the time to sit down with an experienced attorney well before an accident occurs offers you the best chance to maximize asset protection for your estates.

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Contact us today to see how AD&R can provide you with the finest legacy and wealth planning advice Northern Nevada has to offer. We help get you the proper insurance and design estate planning to help you overcome unexpected lawsuits after an accident. Give us a call today so that we can help prepare you for the perils winter might bring. 

 

 To date, twenty-four states have enacted or introduced model legislation referred to as the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (Formerly Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act). The full text is available on the website of the Uniform Law Commission at https://www.uniformlaws.org/committees/community-home?CommunityKey=64ee1ccc-a3ae-4a5e-a18f-a5ba8206bf49.

Trust Funding: Is Everything Titled Correctly?

You’ve had your trust documents drafted and signed, now you assume your estate plan is in place and no further action is required. Unfortunately, this is not all that needs to be done to ensure your estate plan is effective. For any trust to have actual value, it needs to be funded. 

The process of funding your trust is essential to leave property, cash, and other assets to your beneficiaries. Learn more about trust funding and proper titling below. 

How to Fund Your Trust

Funding is the process of moving assets, such as money and property into the appropriate trust. To fully understand funding, imagine your trust as an empty bucket. The bucket by itself doesn’t offer much usefulness, but once you fill the bucket up, it has a purpose. Trusts function similarly in that they are only useful when they have money or property in them. 

The funding process involves retitling your assets in the name of your trust. Bank accounts, property, and any other assets will need to be titled in the trust’s name in order for them to be included in that trust, otherwise, it will remain empty. This can be done in one of two ways: 

  1. Transfer ownership of your accounts and property from you (individually) to yourself as a trustee of your trust. 
  2. Designate beneficiaries and name the trust as a beneficiary on other types of property such as life insurance.

By doing this, your trust can be easily handed over to a successor trustee to manage in the event of your incapacitation - without the need for court intervention. Your successor trustee will have the right and responsibility to use the assets placed in the trust for you and your beneficiaries while you are unable to manage those things on your own. Fortunately, fully funded living trusts are exempt from the probate process, which provides a superior method of managing the trust for streamlined asset distribution and much more. 

To properly fund your trust, you’ll need to work with the financial organizations you bank with to transfer ownership of your accounts into the trust’s name. Any real property you own will also need to be transferred into the trust’s name which may require a new deed to be signed with the correct information. Take a look at some of the common types of property that can be included or funded in your trust:

Cash Accounts (Checking & Savings)  

Accounts including checking, savings, money market, and certificate of deposit (CD) should all be regularly funded to your trust. To do this, you’ll need to work with the bank or credit union in which you have accounts to retitle them into your trust’s name. Commonly, you will be required to provide a certificate of trust that contains information the financial institution will need to complete the transfer. Just be sure that there are no early withdrawal penalties for retitling your CD accounts. 

Real Estate and Real Property

Real estate may refer to your personal residence or another property (commercial, residential, or industrial) owned by you. Real property refers to the interests associated with property such as mineral or timber rights. Both types of property will require the help of an estate planning attorney to prepare the appropriate documents and ensure the property deeds are signed and sealed specifically for your trust. 

Investments

Investment accounts will also need to be transferred into your trust’s name which can be accomplished through your financial advisor or broker of a custodial account. To do this, a certificate of trust is often necessary for proper retitling of your investments.  

Personal Items

Personal effects may include items such as jewelry, furniture, clothing, photos, artwork, collections, tools, vehicles, and more. You can easily move these items into your trust by signing an assignment of personal property.

Life Insurance

In regards to your life insurance, it’s best to name your trust as the primary beneficiary of the policy so that the trust has authority over the earnings garnered from said policy. It is then customary to name loved ones or other special persons such as a spouse, partner, or child as secondary beneficiaries. Most insurance companies have processes in place that allow these changes to be made easily. To change the primary beneficiary on your life insurance policy, contact your insurance agent to get the proper beneficiary designation forms filled out and filed.  

Retirement Assets

Retirement assets may include individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401k plans. Typically, it is not recommended to transfer ownership of these accounts to your trust due to the serious tax implications they pose for the plan’s owner. Before you assign your trust as the primary beneficiary on your retirement accounts, it’s crucial that you understand the potential tax consequences associated with this plan of action. Fortunately, your estate planning attorney can help you assess these risks and make the most appropriate decision for you. 

Other Assets to Consider

The most common types of property are listed above, but these aren’t the only assets that you may want to be funded into your trust. To ensure that your legacy goes to the appropriate beneficiaries, and to avoid probate, it’s important to include all of your assets in your trust. Some of the other types of property that should be funded into your trust include:

Trust Funding with Reputable Estate Planning Attorneys AD&R

Your estate plans matter more than you may think. While many people assume they don’t have adequate assets to warrant the need for a living trust or other types of estate plans, this isn’t the case. Reputable estate planning attorneys can help you develop an effective estate plan that safeguards your assets and ensures your legacy for generations to come. 

Connect with Anderson, Dorn & Rader today to have your trust documents drafted and titled, and your trusts properly funded. We’ll help you retitle your accounts and ensure correct ownership of your property for an effective estate plan.

Schedule a Complimentary Consultation with a Reno Trust Lawyer Today

In the event of your incapacity, it’s crucial that you begin estate planning to set processes and prepare documents such as a last will and testament or revocable living trust to safeguard your assets. Congress determined that due to the importance and benefits estate planning has for Americans and their families, it was necessary to bring awareness to the cause. Thus, since 2008, the third week of October has been recognized as National Estate Planning Awareness Week. While the onset of COVID-19 did encourage a majority of us to begin thinking about the future, many American families are still severely lacking an effective estate plan with just one-third of adults in the U.S. having documented wills or trusts. If you assume that estate planning isn’t for you because you haven’t acquired mass wealth or several large assets, you’d be mistaken. 

The Importance of Having an Estate Plan

Estate planning is simply a way to protect your assets and your loved ones by creating legally valid documents that address a variety of concerns. These concerns often include ensuring that your money and property are protected, plans are in place in the event you become ill, and your assets are managed according to your wishes. 

Beginning the Estate Planning Process

To begin the estate planning process, several considerations need to be made. Some of the things that will require your attention are whether or not you have a will or trust, your plans for powers of attorney, insurance coverage, and your existing accounts. Below, we will discuss these considerations more in-depth:

Encourage Your Loved Ones to Begin Estate Planning

National Estate Planning Awareness Week is a great opportunity to get your own estate plan in place, but be sure to also reach out to your loved ones to ensure their future estate plans as well. Estate planning is often a difficult topic to broach because it brings the unpleasant topics of aging and death to the forefront of our minds. Here are a few tips to help you start the conversation:

Contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, LTD. Estate Planning Attorneys

Our estate planning and trust company in Reno, NV has been serving families and businesses throughout northern Nevada for over 25 years. As experienced estate attorneys, we are dedicated to providing you with the most current estate planning information and strategies to ensure your legacy for future generations. We’re able to prepare last will and testaments, revocable trusts, healthcare directives, and act as power of attorney in the case of your incapacitation. Contact us today to learn more about estate planning or sign up for one of our estate planning workshops.  

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In the attempt to progress towards a modern US tax system, the Biden administration has proposed a number of changes to the current tax code. According to a publication released by the U.S. Treasury early this year, they hope to push these changes through Congress which is necessary to gain approval for the amendments. It’s true that many Americans are divided on the best methods for stimulating the US economy, however, one fact remains undoubtable - careful estate and tax planning is crucial for the wealth and financial security of American families. 

The Greenbook, a publication that provides information regarding the Administration’s revenue proposals, details the proposed changes which will ultimately impact estate planning in numerous ways. Many of the effective estate planning strategies that have been diligently defined by professionals in the industry for decades may be discarded. However, this could also enhance certain processes in estate planning by implementing other key strategies.   

How Might the Estate Tax Exemption Reduction Affect You?

Notably, the reduction of estate and gift tax exemption amounts is absent from the list of proposals. While it’s possible that this could change in the future, we know that for now, these tax exemptions remain extremely high. It’s important to understand the law as it is written today so that you can make appropriate decisions with your assets and prepare for other coming changes. 

As it stands today, the estate tax laws that were passed under the Trump administration will expire and reset to the prior laws starting in 2026. If there is no action made by Congress to change this, the reset will restore the estate and gift tax exemption amount to $5 million, as it was in 2016. However, the rate of inflation must also be included in this amount which brings the total to roughly $6.6 million by 2026. 

With this information in mind, it’s crucial that you do all you can now to determine the expected return on your investments for the future. To do this, you should consider the average rates of return on your current investments, compounded annually. Many people have found that a healthy return of 7% annually could double one’s net worth in just 10 to 12 years. However, if estate tax exemption amounts are reduced by roughly 50% and continue to increase with the inflation rate, you risk having to pay significantly high estate tax rates. 

Other Greenbook Proposals May Be a Factor

It can be difficult to prepare for the uncertainties that may affect your tax and estate planning strategies. Without knowing what the future holds, how do you determine the best way to protect your assets? To make a more accurate decision, some of the other Greenbook proposals should also be considered, such as: 

These changes haven’t been approved yet by Congress, but their consideration could help sway your strategic plans. The following strategies are still effective tools under current tax law, and implementing them now could provide significant tax savings.

Grantor Retained Annuity Trust

A grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) is an estate planning strategy that allows the grantor to contribute appreciating assets to chosen beneficiaries using little or none of your gift tax exemption. To do this, you would transfer some of your property or accounts to the GRAT in which you will still retain the right to receive an annuity. Following a specified period of time, the beneficiaries will receive the amount remaining in the trust.

inheritance estate planning

Installment Sales to an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust

Another estate planning strategy that may be beneficial for you is to gift seed capital, typically in the form of cash, to an intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT). You will then sell appreciating or income-producing property to the IDGT in which they will make installment payments back to you over a period of time. If the account or property increases in value over the period of the sale, the accounts or property in the trust will appreciate outside your taxable estate and will therefore avoid estate taxes. Additionally, the trust does not have to pay income taxes on the income the trust retains since the taxes are already paid on the income generated and accumulated in the trust.

Spousal Lifetime Access Trust

In a spousal lifetime access trust (SLAT), the grantor is to gift property to a trust created for the benefit of their spouse and possibly their beneficiaries. An independent trustee can make discretionary distributions to those beneficiaries, which can also benefit you indirectly. Contrary, an interested trustee should be limited to ascertainable standards when making distributions, such as health and education. With this estate planning strategy, you can take advantage of the high lifetime gift tax exemption amount by making gifts to your spouse. This trust avoids the use of the marital deduction which means the assets in the SLAT will not be included in either your or your spouse’s gross estate for estate tax purposes.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

Finally, there are irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs). This trust allows leveraging life insurance to ease the burden placed on your estate if it becomes subject to estate tax at your death. This type of trust is established by transferring an existing life insurance policy into the ILIT in which you make annual gifts to the trust in order to pay the premiums on the policy. At your death, the trust receives the insurance death benefit and distributes it according to the trust’s terms. The death benefit and the premiums gifted to the trust are completed gifts, meaning your estate would not include any of the trust’s value. 

Meet with Reputable Estate Planning Attorneys Today

We are holding a series of webinars over the coming weeks, from which you can obtain a great deal of useful information. Just choose the session that fits into your schedule. The webinars are being offered on a complimentary basis, so you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. This being stated, we do ask that you register in advance so that we can reserve your seat.

To sign up for an estate planning webinar, visit Anderson, Dorn & Rader here. Once you find a date that is right for you, click on the button that you see and follow the simple instructions to register. For more information regarding estate tax exemptions and planning, connect with our estate planning attorneys today.

SPEAK WITH AN ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY

Trusts are an essential part of legacy and estate planning as they provide the best security over a person’s assets during and after life. A trust allows a grantor, or creator of the trust, to set aside possessions and assets for assigned beneficiaries following their death or incapacitation. There are several types of trusts to choose from, but regardless of this, you’re going to require the assistance of a successor trustee to manage the trust in the event that something happens to you. If you’re asking yourself “what is a successor trustee and why do I need one?”, you’re not alone. Take a look below to learn more about successor trustees and how to go about selecting them.  

legacy-wealth-planningWhat is a Successor Trustee?

A successor trustee is a person or group of people appointed to manage a trust when the grantor is no longer capable of managing it themselves. This may be due to the grantor becoming incapacitated, losing the ability to make decisions, or passing away. The successor trustee is responsible for administering and settling a trust in the event that one of these circumstances occurs. 

Duties of the successor trustee vary case by case as these terms are set by the grantor, but most commonly, trustees are responsible for overseeing the trust and managing the distribution of assets when the time comes. They will also be responsible for notifying relatives and proper institutions of the death or incapacitation. Often, the role of successor trustee lasts for many years making it a rather large commitment that may also be quite time-consuming.  

Successor trustees can be any trusted adult you choose such as adult children, relatives, trusted friends, or professional trustee services like those from Anderson, Dorn & Rader. 

How to Select a Successor Trustee

When it comes time to select a trustee, the grantor has a few options. It may be recommended that one person be appointed to serve as the successor trustee or it may be suggested to have multiple trustees. Having a single person act as successor trustee helps avoid potential conflicts between co-trustees during the administration of the trust. For this reason, it’s a common approach in estate planning to assign one person as the trustee at a time. So long as the successor trustee maintains contact with beneficiaries, keeps them informed about the trust administration, and fulfills the trustee’s responsibilities under both the law and the provisions of the trust document, appointing a single successor trustee can be a great option.

However, many trust makers are reluctant to place the entire responsibility for trust administration on just one person. Because of this, a grantor may appoint two or more trusted adults to serve as successor co-trustees. This method may be beneficial not only for the trustees but for the grantor as well. For instance, dividing the trustee’s responsibilities will help make the job of serving as a trustee much more manageable. To explain, a grantor may appoint a professional trustee service to be in charge of handling trust investments or accounting and tax information while another appointed trustee such as a family member or friend handles the distribution of assets and other similar duties. Likewise, having successor co-trustees may ensure the process of checks and balances which ultimately safeguard your trust from potential abuses of authority.   

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Co-Trustee Approach  

To determine whether your trust will be better in the hands of a single successor trustee or multiple trustees, you need to first understand the advantages and disadvantages of having successor co-trustees managing your trust. Some of the advantages of the co-trustee approach include:

Some of the disadvantages of the co-trustee approach to consider are:

Choosing the Right Successor Trustee Approach for You

Before choosing whom to name as a successor trustee, you should discuss the options with your attorney and other professional advisors. Doing so will help you identify some of the potential pitfalls and complications that can arise with regard to your successor trustee choice. During this discussion, you may realize the need to make changes to your estate planning documents such as adding or eliminating beneficiaries or editing your assets. 

Before determining what the right approach is for you, consider the following questions regarding potential successor trustees:

Successor Trustee Services from AD&R

It can be extremely difficult to determine what the best management option for your trust is. Fortunately, there are professionals out there to help make the decision more simple. If you’re struggling to appoint a trustee or group of trustees, connect with the expert estate planners at Anderson, Dorn & Rader to learn more about your options. As estate planning attorneys with extensive experience serving as professional trustees, they’re more than qualified to help you make the right decision regarding your legacy. 

Whether you nominate a single successor trustee or multiple co-trustees, carefully considering the pros and cons of each approach can help ensure that your wishes for the handling of your estate and trust will be honored. Contact us today so we can review your current successor trustee selections or create an estate plan with the right people in charge to assist you when needed.

SPEAK WITH AN ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY

During estate planning, the beneficiaries are likely to change over time. It’s common for grandchildren to be added into the plan as they come, which will require several amendments from a licensed estate planning attorney. Estate planning attorneys are often asked about trusts for grandchildren and what the best option is.  

Several inheritance methods exist to accommodate grandchildren and there are many factors to consider when determining the best one for you and your family. For most grandparents, the best way to provide for their grandchildren is to leave their accounts and property to the grandchildren’s parents. In some cases, however, it makes better sense for grandparents to give property directly to their grandchildren. 

If you’re wondering, “Can I open a trust account for my grandchildren?” the answer is yes. Below are examples of trusts for grandchildren and some of the basic information you need to know about them.

Inheritance Options for Grandparents

Regardless of your current situation, it is important to consider the possibilities and options for leaving an inheritance to your grandchildren. Failing to do so can have long-lasting consequences and, in many cases, may result in difficult legal challenges and family complications upon your passing.

Leaving Assets with the Grandchild's Parents

Many grandparents decide that the best way to provide for their grandchildren is to leave their assets to the grandchildren’s parents. This typically ensures the financial stability of that family unit, thereby indirectly benefiting the grandchildren. From a practical perspective, the grandchildren’s parents are often in the best position to know how to use the money for the benefit of their children and can spend or invest it appropriately on their behalf.

In a majority of the U.S., default inheritance laws have been set to provide first for children and then for the grandchildren in the event of the grandparent’s death.

Leaving Assets Directly with the Grandchild

In rare instances, grandparents may find that it is in everyone’s best interests to leave their assets directly with the grandchildren. This may occur for a few reasons including cases where the grandparents are untrusting of their own children and are concerned that the money would not be responsibly used for the benefit of the grandchild. 

One may also choose to directly leave their assets to the grandchildren if the grandchild’s parents are independently wealthy. This could result in added taxes being tacked onto the estate caused by exposing the property which may be costly.  

Grandchildren Gain Assets by Default

Lastly, you must consider the possibility of grandchildren inheriting your assets through their parents by default. Although the intent of grandparents may have been to leave everything to their adult children, an inheritance may be given to grandchildren unintentionally. In the event that the adult child who originally inherited the assets prematurely passes away due to an accident or illness, the grandchild could inherit all assets. Arrangements can be made to accommodate these situations in the will or trust. 

Choosing the Proper Trust

There are many types of trusts for grandchildren for you to choose from including HEET trusts, Gift trusts, and Generation Skipping trusts. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, therefore, it is important for you to discuss which option is best for you with a licensed trusts attorney.

Naming Your Grandchild a Beneficiary in Your Trust or Will

One of the most preferred ways to leave assets to grandchildren is by naming them as a beneficiary in your will or trust. As the grantor or trustor, you are able to specify a set amount of money or a percentage of your total accounts and property to each grandchild as you see fit. This is an effective method given that all of the grandchildren receiving such gifts are physically and emotionally stable, financially prudent, and have reached adulthood.

However, if the grandchildren are minors at the time of your death, this method leaves the trustee or executor of the estate with more responsibilities to handle before the inheritance can be distributed. In this case, the gift will need to be held in a custodial account for the minor until they have reached the majority age (either 18 or 21). And in some instances, establishing a court-controlled conservatorship over the property may be required.

Regardless of either instance, once the child reaches the age of majority, you or the trustee will not be able to control how that money is used by the grandchild. This could result in the inheritance being spent very poorly by the grandchild or could possibly fall into the hands of a spouse or other person who was not intended to receive the gift.

Gift Trusts

A trust offers one of the most flexible methods for leaving an inheritance to grandchildren. Not only are you able to amend the trust as you need, but you also have the ability to set the maturity date and control how the inheritance is used. When you leave an inheritance to grandchildren via a trust, you can ensure that the money and property are used appropriately and at appropriate times. 

There are a variety of ways to use trusts in your estate planning. Provisions can be added to your will or revocable living trust that give you the freedom to decide how the inheritance is distributed. For example, you can instruct the executor or trustee to hold any property that is payable to a grandchild in a separate trust share rather than making a direct distribution of the accounts or property to them. Also, you can specify in those trust terms how the money is to be used or distributed and when. Such provisions are extremely important to ensure your estate plan follows your specific instructions, regardless of unexpected events impeding on those wishes. Fortunately, a trust can protect and manage the inheritance until it can be distributed to the grandchildren at a more appropriate time.

Another way to use trusts for grandchildren is to have the grandparent create a trust that designates them the trustor and the trustee. Creating the trust during your lifetime and naming yourself as the trustee allows you to transfer some of your property into the trust for the benefit of your grandchildren to use before your passing. From a tax perspective, you can make gifts to this trust using the annual gift tax exemption (currently, $15,000 per beneficiary of the trust per year) to safeguard the gifts from transfer taxes.

Health and Education Exclusion Trusts

If your estate is large enough to potentially be subject to the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax, then you may consider creating a special trust that may provide additional tax benefits. A health and education exclusion trust (HEET) is one of these special types of trusts. A HEET is designed to be used for the use of paying for health and education expenses directly on behalf of the beneficiaries without being subjected to gift taxes in the future. Furthermore, the distributions to the beneficiaries will be exempt from the GST tax. This benefit is obtained by naming a charitable institution as an additional beneficiary of the trust. As long as the trustee makes regular and reasonably substantial distributions to the charitable beneficiary from the trust, the distributions to the other beneficiaries will be GST tax-exempt.

A HEET is worth considering for several reasons. First, if you would like to help your grandchildren and succeeding generations with their education and medical expenses this is the perfect option for you. And if you have used up your GST tax exemption amount through gifting or other estate planning strategies, a HEET exempts the GST tax. Lastly, a HEET gives you the opportunity to benefit a charitable organization as part of your estate planning.

Generation-Skipping Transfer Taxes

When planning your estate, generation skipping transfer taxes need to be considered. GST taxes are a unique form of taxation that will undoubtedly affect your grandchildren’s inheritance if what you own is valued at more than the current estate tax exemption amount. For most people with modest accounts and property, the GST tax does not pose any significant plight. However, the GST tax is something that you should be aware of and plan around if you plan to leave any amount of money or property with your grandchildren.
Another point to consider when creating a trust specifically for your grandchildren is the GST tax that is required should you include your grandchildren’s children in the trust. You may need to take certain steps upon creation of such trusts to ensure that the trust is GST tax-exempt which a tax professional can assist with.

Consider the Parents

Though many grandparents seek to provide their grandchildren with an inheritance with good intentions, gift-giving such large sums of money may not be as appreciated by the parents. While some parents may see the gift as a blessing, others find that such large inheritances may hinder their child’s character development. By taking away the need to become financially independent, some parents worry that their children will miss out on important life lessons about sacrifice and hard work and the value of money in general. 

Be sure to speak with your grandchildren’s parents beforehand about how you can best support the development of your grandchildren and provide for them in their early years. This will ensure that your gifts will be appreciated and truly beneficial.

Estate Planning with Anderson, Dorn & Rader

Whether you want to specifically and intentionally include your grandchildren in your estate planning or just want to make sure they are carefully accounted for in the event that they unexpectedly inherit your property, it is critical to examine your estate plan with your attorney to make sure that your plan reflects your wishes and your family’s values. Fortunately, the experts at Anderson, Dorn, and Rader have an exemplary understanding of this type of law and are happy to help you update your estate plan. 

Connect with our Reno estate planning attorneys and learn how you can open a trust for your grandchildren.

How to Responsibly Leave an Inheritance to Your Grandchildren, Ortiz Gosalia Attorneys at Law (June 8, 2021)
https://ortizgosalialaw.com/newsletters/client-focused-newsletter/how-to-responsibly-leave-an-inheritance-to-your-grandchildren/

This year has been unprecedented from a political perspective in many ways. President Joe Biden stepped into office facing huge obstacles related to the COVID-19 pandemic, an economy battered by the pandemic, a crumbling national infrastructure in dire need of repair, an ongoing immigration crisis at our southern border, and deep political and social divisions in this country, among other challenges.

As Biden entered office, he named the following issues as his top priorities:

  1. Getting past the COVID-19 pandemic through masking, vaccinations, and opening schools
  2. Addressing climate change and alternative energy solutions
  3. Financial regulation and student debt
  4. Anticompetition practices among the leading companies in Big Tech
  5. Revitalizing the economy and employment to recover from the pandemic
  6. Improving international relations
  7. Immigration
  8. Race, gender, and social issues

With these issues at the top of Biden’s priority list, it may appear that no real changes are coming down the pipeline that are directly related to the estate plans of most Americans of average means. But if recent history is any guide, although many of us hope that the estate planning landscape will remain settled and predictable, it is unlikely that we will be so lucky. Here’s what we know so far with regard to proposals coming from the White House.

Action from the First One Hundred Days That Could Affect Your Estate

While many of the issues Biden has prioritized have begun to be addressed within his first one hundred days in office, many of them are still in their infancy, with the details of how they will be implemented and funded still to be determined. The following steps have already been implemented or proposed in Biden’s plan.

  1. In early March, Biden signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill (named “The American Rescue Plan”), providing stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, and child tax credits to millions of Americans to help stimulate the economy.
  2. On March 31, through the “American Jobs Plan,” Biden outlined a nearly $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan that is to be funded primarily through a corporate tax hike an additional measures designed to discourage U.S. corporations from moving their operations overseas to reduce or eliminate U.S. taxation (i.e., “offshoring”).
  3. The American Rescue Plan also allocates significant funding for providing vaccinations to all Americans at no cost, and additional funds to help the nation’s foodservice industry and K-12 schools survive the financial impacts of the pandemic.
  4. The proposed “American Families Plan” by the White House in late April is also designed to help families cover basic expenses, gain greater access to health care insurance, and reduce child poverty through the use of child tax credits and similar measures.

These large spending bills, both passed and proposed, will need to be funded in some manner.
Some of the possibilities for funding this spending include the following changes to the tax laws
that could have a significant impact on your estate planning: 5

  1. Increase IRS enforcement efforts of wealthy taxpayers.
    The White House has determined that significant tax revenues are being left on the table due to the inability of the
    IRS to enforce current tax laws. Biden has proposed increased funding of the IRS to enforce laws against tax avoidance abuses and increase audits to ensure taxes that are in fact owed are being assessed and collected.
  2. Elimination of the rule of step-up in basis at death.
    This proposed change to the tax code would eliminate the benefit of receiving a step-up in tax basis on inherited property in the hands of a deceased individual’s heirs and beneficiaries for gains in excess of $1 million (or $2.5 million per couple when combined with existing real estate exemptions). This could result in significant capital gains taxes being assessed upon the sale of the property once it has been inherited. However, certain exceptions to this rule for small business owners and farmers would be preserved under the proposed legislation.
  3. Increases in top income tax rate.
    Another Biden proposal under consideration is the increase in the top individual tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent and elimination of the lower capital gains tax rates otherwise available for those earning over $1 million annually. Rather, capital gains would be taxed as ordinary income for those earning over $1 million annually.
  4. Reducing potential benefits of 1031 exchanges.
    The President is calling on Congress to reduce the benefits available with the special tax break that allows real estate investors to defer paying capital gains taxes when they exchange properties.

Flexibility Is Key in These Uncertain Times

We are living in a time of significant uncertainty when it comes to estate planning and the economy. As a result, it is more important than ever to ensure that your estate plan is designed in a way that enables you to move quickly and take advantage of estate and tax planning opportunities that arise.

Additionally, there remain many non-tax-related reasons to keep your estate plan up-to-date
and relevant to your circumstances:

Keeping abreast of the whirlwind of changes in the law and the economy can be a tall order for anyone when it comes to maintaining your estate planning. That is why having an estate plan with appropriate provisions that allow for flexibility is so important. We are prepared to keep you apprised of the legislative changes that are headed our way and will help you stay informed so you can move quickly if changes to your planning become necessary. We always welcome a call from you to set up an appointment with our office to discuss your estate plan. Together, we can make sure you are prepared for whatever may come.

1 Jacob Pramuk, Biden Signs $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Bill, Clearing Way for Stimulus Checks, Vaccine
Aid, CNBC (Mar. 11, 2021, 3:03 PM)

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/11/biden-1point9-trillion-covid-relief- package-thursday-afternoon.htmlhttps://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/11/biden-1point9-trillion-covid-relief- package-thursday-afternoon.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/03/31/president-joe-biden-proposes-2-trillion-infrastructure-jobs-plan/4809290001/

3 Barbara Sprunt, Here’s What’s in the American Rescue Plan, NPR News (March 11, 2021),
https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/03/09/974841565/heres-whats-in-the- american-rescue-plan-as-it-heads-toward-final-passage

4 Fact Sheet: The American Families Plan, The White House (Apr. 28, 2021),
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/28/fact-sheet-the-american- families-plan/

5 Blank Rome, LLP, Estate Planning in 2021 and Beyond: The Possible Impact of Democratic Control in
Washington, JD Supra (Mar. 9, 2021)

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/estate-planning-in-2021-and- beyond-the-6514827/

6 See Fact Sheet: The American Families Plan, The White House 14 (Apr. 28, 2021)
https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/American-Families-Plan-Fact-Sheet-FINAL.pdf

In March 2004, the Senate passed Resolution 316, which officially recognized April as National Financial Literacy Month. Both Houses of Congress have passed similar resolutions since then designed to encourage financial literacy so that individuals are better prepared to manage their money, credit, and debt. Nevertheless, in the fourth quarter of 2019, U.S. household debt, which includes student debt, credit card debt, auto debt, mortgages, home equity loans, and other debts, exceeded $14 trillion for the first time ever.1 In addition, forty percent of the respondents of one recent survey indicated that it would be very difficult for them to meet their current financial obligations if their next paycheck were delayed for one week, and another thirty-four percent said it would be somewhat difficult.2 The COVID-19 pandemic has, unfortunately, made this potential difficulty a scary reality for many Americans.

Whether or not you are indeed struggling financially, it is important to do a realistic assessment of your financial situation and how prepared you and your family are for the future. Creating or updating your estate plan is an important part of exercising control over your finances, and ensuring that proper plans are in place can provide substantial peace of mind and security for you and your family.

Take an Inventory

One of the first steps in creating an estate plan is to take an inventory of your money and property. Regardless of whether you are wealthy or just getting by, everything that you own is part of your estate and should be listed--or at least accounted for-- in your inventory. This inventory should include the following:

As you and your estate planning attorney evaluate your inventory, there are several questions you should ask yourself.

Am I saving adequately for retirement? Clearly, the answer to this question will vary for different individuals and circumstances, but many financial advisors recommend saving ten to fifteen percent of your pre-tax income during the entire span of your entire working years. If you have not been saving adequately, consider increasing your contributions to your retirement accounts.

Are sufficient funds available to provide for my spouse and dependents if I pass away? If the answer is no, consider purchasing a life insurance policy large enough to replace your income, as well as pay off any outstanding debts, college for your children, final expenses, and other important expenses, e.g., the cost of your child’s wedding or their first car.

Do I have a lot of debt? If you have substantial debt, your family members generally will not be responsible for paying it if you pass away. However, your estate will have to pay off your creditors before your beneficiaries receive anything. Life insurance can help in this situation as well: You can either purchase life insurance sufficient to pay your debt or you can make family members or loved ones the beneficiaries of your policy (or a trust for their benefit), as the proceeds of the policy never become part of your estate but are transferred directly the beneficiaries of the policy. Similarly, retirement, investment, and brokerage accounts allow you to name one or more beneficiaries, keeping those funds outside of your estate. Real estate or accounts owned jointly will also pass directly to the surviving owner when permitted by state law.

An even better course of action, however, would be to meet with a financial planner who can help you create a budget enabling you to decrease or eliminate your debt so that your loved ones will receive all the money and property you would like them to have.

Protect Your Assets

If you transfer money and property you would like to preserve for your beneficiaries into an irrevocable trust, that is, a trust that cannot be amended, modified, or revoked (except under limited circumstances), those assets will be protected from any of your future creditors or judgments (with time limits). Because the money and property used to fund the trust is no longer yours and you have no control over it, it is not available to pay your creditors. Your family members and loved ones can be named as the beneficiaries of the trust. This strategy can be particularly helpful for individuals working in professions that are at a high risk of lawsuits, e.g., doctors, lawyers, etc.

Warning: An irrevocable trust will not protect money and property from creditors having a claim at the time the trust is created. Courts can rescind transfers to trusts if they are determined to have been made with the intention to defraud current creditors.

Consider the Needs of Your Beneficiaries

Protect their inheritance from their creditors. Even if you take all the steps necessary to ensure that your beneficiaries receive a nice nest egg when you pass away, it can disappear quickly once it is in their hands unless your estate plan is designed to avoid this possibility. Fortunately, you can create a trust with terms that will protect your beneficiaries’ inheritance against claims arising from their creditors, divorcing spouses, or lawsuits. There are a variety of different types of trusts that can protect the money and property from such claims, but the following are among the most commonly used. 

Create a trust for a specific purpose(s). You can include terms in your trust authorizing the trustee to make distributions for your children or other loved ones for specific purposes so that even after you have passed away, you are still able to help the trust beneficiaries make certain important purchases or pay for special care.  

Let Us Help You and Your Family Move Toward a Secure Future

Celebrate Financial Literacy Month by taking steps to get your financial house in order. Estate planning is an essential part of this process, as it is all about providing you and your family with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that even if the unexpected happens, the future is secure. Please call us today at (775) 823-9455 to set up a meeting so we can create an estate plan that meets all of your needs and goals.

1 Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, February 2020,” accessed March 17, 2020, https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/interactives/householdcredit/data/pdf/hhdc_2019q4.pdf

2 American Payroll Association, “Getting Paid in America Survey,” last modified September 10, 2019, https://www.nationalpayrollweek.com/wp-content/uploads/2019GettingPaidInAmericaSurveyResults.pdf

In 1984, Congress issued a resolution, signed by President Reagan, establishing March 21st as National Single Parent Day: a day devoted to recognizing the dedication of single parents, who make self-sacrificial efforts to care for their children’s needs, and encouraging family members, friends, and communities to help provide an optimal environment for their children. As a single parent, you should feel proud of your efforts to nurture and care for your children. Here are a few additional things you can do to provide for your children’s future that you may not have considered.

Name a guardian

If your children’s other parent is willing and able to care for them if you pass away unexpectedly, he or she will likely be given physical custody of the children and responsibility for their care. In the case of single parents, however, the other parent often may not be able or willing to take on this role. This is why it is crucial for you to name a guardian who will step into your shoes to provide day-to-day care for your children if something happens to you. If you do not name a person you trust, a court will step in to appoint someone. Because the person the court chooses to be your children’s guardian may not be the person you would have chosen, it is vitally important that you designate this person in advance. You can name a guardian in your will (and in some states, a separate document can be used specifically for this purpose): Although the court will still have to appoint the guardian, the court will typically defer to your wishes.

In making your decision, there are a few factors to keep in mind: Does your chosen guardian share your values and parenting style? Will your chosen guardian require your children to relocate? Does your chosen guardian have the energy and stamina needed to care for your children? Do they have the time to be an involved caregiver? Do you want more than one guardian to care for multiple children, or do you prefer for the children to stay together? It is important to weigh the importance of these considerations in making your decision.

Create a custodial account

If your children are minors, you can establish a custodial account to hold an inheritance under a law called the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act or the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act. If you do not appoint the custodian, the court will appoint someone to control and manage your children’s inheritance until they reach the age of majority. This is necessary because minors legally cannot own money or property on their own. A custodian will manage the funds in the account for the benefit of your children, but the downside is that when they reach the age of majority (18-21 years old depending on applicable state law), the funds will be distributed to them in a lump sum. At that point, they can spend the money as they wish, which may not be optimal for a young person who is not yet mature enough to make prudent financial decisions. In addition, any present or future creditors could try to reach your children’s inheritance to satisfy their claims.

Create a trust

A trust is often preferred over a custodial account because it is more flexible and can be designed to protect the funds against your children’s future creditors and their own imprudent spending. You can name someone who is adept at handling money to manage and disperse the funds for the benefit of your children if you die before they reach adulthood—or the age you have decided to the funds should be distributed to them. This can be the same person who will act as the children’s guardian, or a different person if you do not trust the guardian (e.g., an ex-spouse) to handle the money you have left to your children. 

If you would like to set up a trust that can be used to manage your money and property for your (and your children’s) benefit if you become too ill to do it yourself, you can establish a revocable living trust with yourself as the trustee. This type of trust will remain in effect if you pass away, and the successor trustee you have named can continue to manage the funds and make distributions for the benefit of your children. The successor trustee can also step in to manage and distribute the funds for your benefit if you are unable to do so. An often less preferable option is to include provisions in your will for the establishment of a trust at your death. This type of trust will not help if you become disabled because it will not go into effect until your death. In addition, it will not be funded until your will has been probated, a process that may be expensive and time-consuming. Also, by creating the trust through your will, the management and distribution of funds may also be subject to ongoing oversight by the probate court.

The trust terms can specify the purposes for which the trust funds can be used, how and when the trustee should make distributions, and, if you so choose, the age at which you would like the trust funds to be fully transferred to your children—which does not have to be at the age of majority. You can choose the type of distributions you believe are best for your children: Some parents give the trustee the discretion to make distributions for specific purposes, such as the children’s health, maintenance, education, or support, or even for a down payment on a house or to provide funding for the child to start up a business. Others give the trustee complete discretion in making distributions for the benefit of the children. The timing of distributions, which can be designed to meet your particular goals, can also be spelled out in the trust.

If you have more than one child, you can specify whether the distributions should be for equal amounts or if a greater percentage of the money in the trust should be distributed for the benefit of certain children, e.g., children with special needs or younger children who did not get as much financial assistance from you while you were alive. In addition, you can address specific issues that may be of concern. For example, you can indicate whether you would like a home you own to be sold, or if you prefer for the children’s guardian to move into the home so they will not have to relocate. If your home is not sold, the terms of the trust can also indicate who will be responsible for paying the real estate taxes, utility bills, and maintenance expenses. The home is a particularly complex issue to consider, as there are often emotional ties and memories connected to it, as well as ongoing costs, and frequently, a mortgage. As experienced estate planning attorneys, we can help you think through the best course of action for your family.

Consider writing down your wishes regarding grandparents’ visitation

If you have named someone other than a grandparent (your parent) to be your children’s guardian, it is important to specify in your estate planning documents whether you wish the grandparents to be able to visit with your children. 

While you are living, it is your fundamental constitutional right to determine whether--and how often-- your children will see your parents (their grandparents). However, when you pass away, grandparents may have a right to see your children. Every state has enacted a grandparent visitation statute, and they vary regarding their permissiveness or restrictiveness. Some statutes only allow grandparents to obtain a visitation order when the children’s parents have separated, divorced, or one or both of them have died. Others are less restrictive1 and allow grandparents to obtain a visitation order even if the parents are still married and are both still living. What both types of statutes have in common is that they both require visitation not to interfere in the parent-child relationship and to be in the best interests of the child. 

Reno Estate Planning Attorneys

As a single parent, you can gain substantial peace of mind by creating an estate plan that ensures your children will be properly cared for—both physically and financially—in the unlikely event that something happens to you while they are still too young to take care of themselves. Please call the Anderson, Dorn & Rader office at (775) 823-9455 to schedule a consultation.

1 Some of these less restrictive statutes have been found to be an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental right of parents to control the upbringing of their children.

As millennials (born 1981 to 1996), you are well known for your distinctiveness as a group. Your generation has followed paths and set goals that are decidedly different from those chosen by previous generations. You are highly diverse, better educated, more socially conscious, and wait longer to have families than your parents and grandparents. But one thing you have in common with other generational groups is the need for estate planning. Unfortunately, a startling 79% of millennials do not have basic estate plans in place. Your needs and goals may vary, but having an estate plan in place is crucial for every adult, including millennials. You do not know what the future holds, and we can help you make sure that plans are in place that not only provide for your own future needs but also those of your loved ones and pets.

Will and/or Trust

As a millennial, you may not have accumulated as much wealth as members of older generations, but it is important for you to make sure that your money and property will go to the family members or loved ones you have chosen if something happens to you. If you do not have a will or trust, your money and property will pass to the person designated by state law, which may not be the person you would want to inherit your prized possessions and money. In addition, if you are married and have young children, you need to take steps to ensure that your spouse and children are provided for. A trust is often the best solution: If your spouse inherits your money and property outright under a will, and your spouse eventually remarries, your assets could go to the second spouse instead of your children. In addition, the inheritance will be vulnerable to claims made by your spouse’s creditors. A trust can avoid these results by allowing you to choose who receives your property and money, as well as the timing and size of the gifts.

Pet Trust

If you are one of many millennials, especially those who live in large urban areas, who chose either to delay having children or to remain childless, you may have adopted pets that you love and dote upon just as you would a child. Especially if you are single, you should consider a pet trust to provide for your pet’s care if something happens to you. The pet trust can allow you to make arrangements for your pet if you die or are physically unable to care for them yourself. The pet trust can not only specify a caregiver for your pet, it can also provide care instructions and set aside funds sufficient to care for your pet’s needs (medical care, grooming, exercise, etc.). You also have the ability to name an additional person to manage the money you have set aside for your pet, if you would rather have someone other than the caregiver in charge of the money.

Charitable Remainder Trust

Millennials are well known for being socially conscious and wanting to make a positive difference in the world. If you want your money and possessions to support a charitable cause when you pass away, you may be interested in establishing a charitable remainder trust, which enables you to benefit from a stream of income for your own life, with the remaining money in the trust going to a charity you have selected upon your death.

Planning for Student Loans or Credit Card Debt

As the cost of college tuition continues to increase, the level of debt millennials have begun their adult lives with is startlingly high. The average student loan debt of adults aged 25 to 34 is $33,000 per borrower. Federal student loans typically are forgiven upon the borrower’s death, but the estates of borrowers who obtained private loans can be pursued by those lenders. In addition, high credit card debt is prevalent among millennials. If you have incurred substantial debt, life insurance sufficient to cover income tax on the cancellation of debt in the case of a federal student loan or to cover the debt itself if a student loan is owed to a private lender or money is owed to a credit card company may be a good solution if you are concerned about the burden your debt could place on your loved ones upon your death.

Digital Assets 

If you are like many millennials, who are the first generation who grew up using the internet, you have likely amassed a much greater quantity of digital assets than members of previous generations. These assets may include social media accounts, blogs, photographs and videos, financial accounts, and email accounts, among many others. A comprehensive list of these of these assets, which may be among your most prized possessions, as well as the accompanying usernames and passwords, and instructions for their management, is essential to ensure that your wishes are honored if you pass away or become too ill to manage them on your own. Depending upon your wishes, you can appoint a separate person to wind up (or continue managing, e.g., in the case of a blog) these assets and accounts, or you can choose to have your executor or trustee handle this aspect of your estate. The list, which can be incorporated by reference into your other estate planning documents, should be stored in a secure place along with your will and/or trust.

Powers of Attorney

Medical Power of Attorney

If you are a younger millennial, you may not realize that your parents no longer automatically have the right to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become too ill to make them on your own or if you are unable to communicate your wishes. Even if you are married, your spouse may still need to be properly named in a medical power of attorney to make decisions for you when you cannot. It is also important to designate a trusted person to act on your behalf if your spouse is unavailable. If you fail to have a medical power of attorney prepared, a court proceeding may be necessary to appoint someone to fill that role if, e.g., you are in an automobile accident and are unconscious. You should also consider completing a living will spelling out your wishes regarding medical treatment you want--or don’t want--at the end of your life or if you are in a persistent vegetative state.

Financial Power of Attorney

Another document that is essential for your care if you were to become unconscious or too ill to make your own financial decisions is a financial power of attorney. It allows a person you have named to pay bills, take care of your home, manage your accounts, and make other money-related decisions for you. Even if you are married, a financial power of attorney is important because any bank accounts or other property that are not jointly owned cannot be managed by your spouse without it—unless your spouse goes to court and asks to be appointed as your guardian, causing unnecessary stress in an already distressing situation. A financial power of attorney can also be helpful if you do a lot of international travel and may occasionally need someone to handle your financial matters while you are out of the country. 

Let Us Help You Prepare for the Future

You may think that estate planning is only for the elderly. However, even if you are young, an estate plan is crucial, regardless of whether you have accumulated much money or property. A properly executed estate plan provides not only for the well-being of your family, loved ones, and pets, but also allows you to put plans in place if you become ill or are severely injured and cannot make medical and financial decisions for yourself. Call us today at 775-823-9455 to learn more about how we can help you prepare for your future.

intestacyThe statistics that are compiled to get a feel for the estate planning preparedness of American adults are not encouraging. Sometimes a particular publication will start to track the progress of a certain phenomenon over a number of years, and Caring.com has focused on this subject.

They have published a survey for 2020 that is eye-opening, and not in a good way. In 2017 when they started doing their research, they found that 42 percent of American adults had estate plans in place. This year, the number is just 32 percent, and lack of preparedness is not confined to young people.

Just over 27 percent of respondents that were between the ages of 35 and 54 had wills or trust, and the parents of dependent children are typically in this age group. If you want to take chances when no one is depending on you, that’s one thing, but parents are in a different category.

You would certainly think that most people that are 55 years of age and older have addressed this responsibility, but this is simply not the case. Only 47.9 percent of individuals in this age group have wills or trusts.

Intestate Succession

If you are going through life without an estate plan like most people and you never take action before it’s too late, you would die intestate. Under the circumstances, the probate court would step in to supervise the estate administration process.

They would appoint a personal representative to act as the administrator. This is a role that is similar to that of the executor that would be named in a last will.

Final debts would be paid during probate, and the court would ultimately order the distribution of the assets under the intestate succession rules of the state of Nevada.

If there are children but no spouse, siblings, or parents for living, the children would inherit the entire intestate estate. The surviving spouse would inherit the estate if there are no living parents or children.

Parents would be the sole inheritors if there is no surviving spouse and there are no siblings or children. The siblings are the inheritors if there are no children, no parents, and no surviving spouse.

When there is a spouse and one child, the spouse would assume ownership of all community property and half of the separate property, and the child would get the other half the separate property.

In a situation where there is a spouse in more than one child, a spouse would get the entirety of the community property and one-third of the separate property. The children would divide the rest equally.

If a spouse and parents survive a decedent, the spouse would inherit all of the community property and half of the separate property, and the parents would inherit the remainder.

Asset Transfers Not Subject to Intestacy Laws

The asset transfers that are subject to the intestate laws are transfers that would have been subject probate if there was a will. Some types of asset transfers are in a different category.

Life insurance proceeds and inherited individual retirement accounts would go to the beneficiaries that were selected by the decedent. The same thing is true with payable on death accounts and property that is held in joint tenancy.

Avoid Intestacy!

There is no reason to take any chances with your legacy. We know that people assume that they will always have time to take care of it later on, but for far too many fate intercedes.

When you take the right steps to preserve your legacy for the benefit of your family, you can go forward with peace of mind.

If you’re ready to get started, you can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 775-823-9455.

supplemental needs trustEstate planning can be a very difficult process. While it’s not brain surgery, making the decision to move forward with the planning requires us to face the fact that we will not live forever. This thought can stop many people right in their tracks. Others talk themselves out of seeing a qualified attorney to put together an estate plan based on some of the following common myths:

Myth #1: Only the Rich Need Estate Planning

When we hear about estate planning on the news or read about it on the internet, it is usually in regards to a wealthy businessman or celebrity who made some error, did no planning, or has family members who are angry about the planning that was actually done. The topic catches people’s attention: Rich people have so much that surely they need planning and can afford to have the planning done correctly. By comparison, when the average person thinks about their own property and planning needs, they assume that it is not necessary because they do not have anything close to Bill Gates’ billions.

However, this could not be further from the truth. Estate planning is about more than just the money. While proper planning allows you to determine who gets your money and property upon your death, the planning process also addresses what happens if you become incapacitated and someone has to make decisions on your behalf--a far more likely scenario. If you have not done any planning, the court will have to appoint someone to make your medical and financial decisions for you. This can be very time consuming, expensive, and public. It can also wreak havoc on a family if they disagree about who should be appointed and how decisions should be made.

Even for those of modest means, who gets your hard-earned savings when you die is an important consideration. Without any planning, state law will decide who gets what—and many times, what the government’s best guess as to what you would want is contrary to what you actually want. But, because you did not take the opportunity to formalize your wishes in an estate plan, the state has to step in and do it for you.

Myth #2: I Don’t Have to Plan Because My Spouse Will Get Everything

For many married couples, it is common to own property or bank accounts jointly. If these assets are owned jointly or as tenants by the entirety, when one spouse dies, then the surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole owner. In most cases, this is the desired outcome for married individuals.

However, this approach can be dangerous. While it is convenient for assets to pass automatically to the surviving spouse, this outright distribution offers no protection. What happens if, after your spouse dies, you get into a car accident and are sued? If the assets you owned jointly automatically became yours alone, this money and property are available to satisfy any judgment that could be entered against you resulting from a lawsuit.

Additionally, what if, after you die, your spouse gets remarried? If the brokerage account you owned jointly becomes your spouse’s only, your spouse is now able to spend it all in any way he or she wants without any consideration for your wishes or the next generation. Your spouse’s new spouse could go out and buy a sports car with the money you intended to pass to your children. With blended families being common today, this is a real concern for many people.

Estate planning does not mean that you have to disinherit your spouse. Rather, it means the two of you can sit down and plan out what happens to your joint property and accounts upon either of your deaths, ensuring that the survivor is provided for and that any remaining money and property are gifted in a way that is agreeable to both of you.

Myth #3: A Will Avoids Probate

Many people believe that once they have created a will—whether drafted by an experienced attorney, or using a DIY solution or online form— they have avoided probate. Unfortunately, they are wrong.

While a will is a great way to designate a person to wind up your affairs once you have passed, determine who will get your hard earned savings and property, and, if necessary, appoint a guardian to care for your minor children, this document has to be submitted to the probate court to begin the process of distributing your money and property. The level of involvement by the probate court can vary depending on the circumstances, but this process is not private, as the will becomes a matter of public record.

Summary Proceedings: In some states, if the value of your estate (i.e., what you own at your death) is below a certain monetary threshold, then anyone who is entitled to inherit from the decedent can file a petition and have the property distributed outside of the traditional probate proceedings. The filing may require a court appearance and formal legal notice to anyone who might be interested before allowing your property to be distributed.

Affidavit Procedure: Some states allow for an affidavit to be used to collect and distribute a decedent’s money and property. In some states, this affidavit can be self-executed, while others require that the document be filed with the court. Generally, affidavits require the passing of time from the date of a decedent’s death—ranging from a few days to a few months. After that, a “successor” to the decedent (a spouse or heir) signs the affidavit and presents the affidavit to collect the decedent’s assets for distribution to his or her rightful heirs.

Supervised Probate: With this type of proceeding, the probate judge oversees every step of the administration process and has to approve of the Personal Representative’s actions. During a supervised probate, all pleadings and required documents have to be filed with the probate court and then served on interested persons or parties. This can be a very time consuming and expensive process. Each time the Personal Representative has to take an action, a legal pleading has to be filed and served on the interested party, which, in contentious situations, opens up the possibility for disagreements and attorneys’ fees.

Unsupervised Probate: In cases where there are no controversies and the parties all get along, an unsupervised probate administration may be the best option. In this situation, although the administration is not supervised by a court, there are still actions the Personal Representative needs to take, but the Personal Representative may not be required to file petitions and documents for each of those steps. However, a Personal Representative may be required to file some steps, such as the preparation of the inventory, with the court and the interested parties, but no corresponding hearing is scheduled. While this is less complicated and possibly less expensive than a supervised probate, it can still be time consuming and your financial and personal affairs would become a matter of public record.

We are here to help answer any questions you may have about estate planning, the estate planning process, or probate. Together, we can craft a one-of-a-kind plan to ensure that you and your family are properly protected. Give us a call today.

 

 

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