Ensuring you have a well-designed strategy to safeguard your valuable assets and property is of utmost importance, and this often requires utilizing tailored tools that suit your unique circumstances. One option to explore within your estate planning is the inclusion of a limited liability company (LLC) to safeguard certain accounts and property.



Understanding a limited liability company (LLC)
A limited liability company (LLC) is a business structure that allows for the ownership of diverse accounts and property. Its ownership rests with the members who contribute either funds or assets to the LLC. The nature of an LLC can vary based on the number of individuals involved, resulting in either a single-member or multi-member configuration. The management of the LLC can be conducted by individual members or by a manager elected by the members.


Expanding the scope of ownership for an LLC
An LLC can own more than just a business. It can also hold various types of accounts and property, such as:

Real estate: Whether it's a second home, rental property, or a property passed down for generations, an LLC can own it.
Investments: An LLC can be used to pool the funds of multiple individuals and invest in assets with a larger volume.
Expensive or high-risk assets: Items like airplanes and boats can be owned by an LLC to provide liability protection.


The advantages of including an LLC in your estate plan

Asset Protection
Including an LLC in your estate plan can offer several benefits, with asset protection being one of the key considerations. As an LLC is considered a separate legal entity, its creditors typically can only pursue the LLC's assets and property, not those of the LLC members. Properly setting up and maintaining the LLC can help prevent personal creditors of the members from accessing the LLC's accounts and property to satisfy their claims. Please keep in mind that certain states may not offer the same degree of protection against personal creditors for single-member LLCs. In such cases, personal creditors may pursue the LLC interests to satisfy their claims, as there are no other members who would be negatively impacted by the seizure of the LLC's assets and property.


Probate Avoidance
When your assets are owned by an LLC, any property or accounts transferred to it during your lifetime, or transferred through operation of law upon your death, can bypass the costly and time-consuming probate process. Probate only handles the transfer of assets that were solely owned by you at the time of your death. By utilizing an LLC, the accounts and property are owned by the LLC, not by you. However, if you hold membership interest in your name, the transfer of this interest at the time of your death may require going through the probate process.


Incorporating an LLC into your estate plan
The process of incorporating an LLC into your estate plan involves creating the LLC during your lifetime and transferring your accounts and property to the LLC or designating it as the beneficiary of your accounts and property upon your death. You can also purchase property or open accounts in the name of the LLC. As the individual establishing the LLC, you will assume the role of a member, and depending on the chosen management structure, you may have the opportunity to oversee the operations of the LLC. If you are married, your spouse can also become a member, and you have the flexibility to include additional members in the LLC at a later stage. However, adding members who don't contribute their money or property may result in gift tax consequences. The LLC will own the accounts and property, and it will operate as a separate entity from its members, providing a level of asset protection. Upon your death, the transfer of ownership interest in the LLC may be the only necessary step, and the accounts and property owned by the LLC will remain under its ownership.


Operating Agreement for LLCs in Estate Planning
LLCs generally have an operating agreement that sets out the rules for managing and transferring a member's interest in the LLC. If you currently own an LLC without an operating agreement or need to update it, it is recommended that you contact an experienced business law attorney with expertise in estate planning as soon as possible. When incorporating estate planning into your operating agreement, consider including the following provisions:

1. The identification of the LLC members.
2. The percentage of ownership each member holds.
3. The procedure for resolving conflicts between members.
4. Any restrictions on a member's ability to transfer their membership interest, including transfers to a trust.
5. The fate of a member's interest if they pass away (in most cases, the terms of the operating agreement govern).


Trust Agreement for LLC Membership Interest
A Trust Agreement can provide an additional layer of protection for your LLC membership interest within your estate plan. By transferring your membership interest to a revocable living trust, you can act as the creator, trustee, and beneficiary of the trust. This arrangement allows you to continue managing the LLC and enjoying its benefits as the trustee of the trust, rather than as an individual. Since the trust becomes the owner of the membership interest, transferring it won't require going through the probate process, as the trust itself doesn't die. Even after your death, the trust can continue to own the membership interest as specified in its instructions. It can include provisions for a successor trustee to manage the LLC on behalf of the trust's beneficiaries. Alternatively, you can instruct the trust to distribute the membership interest to a designated beneficiary at a specified time or upon your death, granting them control over the membership interest. If you're considering creating a trust agreement, it's advisable to seek the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure it aligns with your goals and objectives.


Best Practices for Using an LLC in Estate Planning
To fully capitalize on the advantages offered by an LLC in your estate plan, it's crucial to adhere to all the rules and regulations associated with its operation. Since an LLC is a separate legal entity, it should be treated as such. This entails following specific formalities, such as submitting your annual report to the relevant state government office and maintaining distinct records of all transactions and meetings involving the LLC. It's equally important to keep your personal finances and assets separate from those of the LLC. Avoid using the LLC's bank account as your personal fund to maintain clear separation and protect the integrity of the LLC.

Commencing January 1, 2024, reporting companies that are classified as LLCs will need to submit a Beneficial Ownership Information Report to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the Department of the Treasury. This report should include the name, birthdate, address, and unique identification number of all beneficial owners of the LLC, along with an acceptable identification document's image and issuing jurisdiction. A beneficial owner is an individual who possesses or exercises significant control over 25% or more of the ownership interest in the company. For LLCs formed after January 1, 2024, company applicants must provide their name, birthdate, address, unique identification number, issuing jurisdiction, and image of an acceptable identification document. A company applicant refers to the individual who creates the entity or registers it to do business in the United States (for foreign reporting companies) or the person mainly responsible for directing or controlling another individual's submission of the document.


What are your next steps in estate planning?
If you aim to protect your assets and secure your family's future, taking the necessary steps is paramount. Crafting a well-designed estate plan tailored to your unique needs can be instrumental in achieving your objectives. If you're interested in learning more about how incorporating an LLC can assist you in.

We extend our warmest congratulations on your new home purchase. Whether this is your first time buying a home or an upgrade/downsize, acquiring a new home is a significant event that brings about change in your life. Properly prepare for the worst by protecting your newest accomplishment. Here are three essential tips to keep in mind now that you have the keys to your new home, including important considerations for estate planning.



1. Make Sure to Update Your Address

After moving into your new home, it is crucial to update your address with the relevant authorities. Start with visiting your local United States Postal Office to obtain a form for change of address. Alternatively, you can update your address online. This step will help the postal service forward your mail to your new address.

It is also a crucial step in protecting your property to update your address with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by filling out Form 8822. This will ensure that you receive all important tax notices and refunds. Additionally, make sure to update your address with your local state tax agency.

2. Ensure Consistency Between Your Home Title and Estate Plan

One aspect of new homeownership that often goes overlooked is the need to align your home title with your estate planning objectives. After purchasing your new home, review the deed to confirm how the property is titled. Next, review your estate planning documents to ensure the property has been titled correctly to achieve your estate planning goals.

For instance, if your previous plan included a specific provision for the distribution of your old property, you will need to update this provision to reflect the current status. Similarly, if you have a trust-based estate plan to avoid probate, you will need to confirm that your new property is titled in the name of the trust and not in your individual name. Ensuring consistency between your home title and estate plan will help protect your assets and ensure your wishes are carried out effectively.

3. Review Your Life Insurance Policy and Beneficiary Designations

If you have a mortgage payment to make on your new home, it's likely you'll have a large monthly expense to pay off each month. To safeguard your loved ones, it is important to review your life insurance coverage. Ensure you have adequate life insurance coverage to address the mortgage payment in the event of your passing, particularly if you have a surviving spouse or children who are likely to remain in the home. Even if they decide not to reside in the property, life insurance can offer valuable resources during a potentially emotionally difficult period. Even if they choose not to stay in the home, life insurance can provide valuable assets during what can be an emotionally challenging time.

It's also a good idea to review your beneficiary designations. Life changes can happen quickly, and this may be overlooked. If your designations don't match up with the rest of your estate plan, you might inadvertently disinherit a family member or have the money go directly to an individual without any guidance.

Finally, with your new home comes the need for homeowner's insurance. Contact your insurance agent to confirm that you are receiving all eligible discounts. Many insurance providers offer package discounts when you combine services. By already having car insurance with the same company as your homeowner's insurance, you may qualify for a lower rate compared to purchasing each policy separately. Additionally, homeowners often receive discounts that renters do not.

We understand that buying a new home is a significant milestone, and we are here to assist you. If you need help aligning your new purchase with your estate planning goals, contact us today. We can ensure that your new home and estate planning are aligned to achieve your objectives, including the important aspect of estate planning for homeowners.

For over a quarter of a century, the National Safety Council has designated June as a
month of paramount importance - a time to honor and prioritize safety at a national
level. This annual celebration, known as National Safety Month, serves as a powerful
reminder of the critical role that safety plays in our lives.

The aim of this month-long campaign is to increase public awareness about the most
significant safety and health risks faced by people in the United States. While many
people are aware of common safety hazards, such as physical injuries, they may not
realize that incapacity or death can result in substantial financial and emotional
consequences for themselves and their families. A revocable living trust is a legal tool
that can help protect you and your loved ones from the costs, uncertainty, and chaos
that may arise in the event of your incapacity or death.

Protection by a Revocable Living Trust for Yourself
Just like anyone else, you face the risk of experiencing a catastrophic accident or illness
that could leave you incapable of taking care of yourself or your loved ones. This
incapacity might be temporary, or it could last until your eventual death. The total cost of
incapacity can be difficult to calculate and can include lost wages, as well as the
expenses of required medical care. These expenses may include requiring assistance
with daily activities such as bathing, eating or dressing. However, it can quickly become
very costly - the average cost of assisted living in the United States in 2020 was
approximately $4,300 per month.

A revocable living trust is an essential legal tool that helps protect you and your loved
ones by providing instructions for how you will be financially supported during your
incapacity. With a revocable living trust, you can choose who will manage your finances
when you are no longer able to handle them yourself. There’s no better time than now
to establish a revocable living trust because it is revocable, which means that you can
change it at any time and alter it as your life circumstances change, as long as you have
the mental capacity.

Protection by a Revocable Living Trust for Your Loved Ones
Your loved ones’ financial and emotional well-being is also protected by a revocable
living trust. It ensures that your wishes are clearly outlined for what should happen in
the event of your incapacity or death. This prevents your loved ones from having to speculate
on your desires or worse, having to follow state law to determine who should handle your finances and end-of-life affairs.

Probate fees, which vary significantly by state, can also be very expensive. For
example, in California, attorney and executor fees for probating an $800,000 home
could be as high as $38,000, as set by law. A revocable living trust can help avoid
probate and those high accompanying fees.

Revocable living trusts also offer privacy protection. Without the instructions provided in
these trusts, family members often have to resort to public court proceedings. This
means that the court and other curious individuals may pry into your private affairs.

Furthermore, these types of trusts can provide basic martial deduction planning to
maximize the use of you and your spouse’s estate tax exemptions. This helps to reduce
your loved ones’ estate tax burden, after your death. Finally, by using this legal tool, you
can protect the money you leave to your loved ones from their creditors.

Properly Funding Your Revocable Living Trust
To ensure that a revocable living trust serves its intended purpose, it must be properly
funded. This means that any property you own must be transferred to the trust, or for
certain assets, the trust must be named as the beneficiary. Failure to properly fund your
trust may result in the need for probate. To avoid this, it is essential to review any
correspondence you have received from your attorney regarding which accounts and
properties should be owned by the trust or designated as beneficiaries. It is especially a
good time to do this in the month of June, which is National Safety Month!

Given the importance of the instructions contained in a revocable living trust, it is
advisable to review them annually to ensure that they still align with your final wishes. If
changes are necessary, it is recommended that you seek assistance from a
professional to update your trust accordingly. This will ensure that your trust continues
to serve you and your loved ones during times of incapacity and after your passing.

Please do not Hesitate to Contact Anderson, Dorn, & Rader for Help with Updating your Trust!

Death is a delicate subject, but can be made simpler with proper planning. In the best case scenario, all paperwork and assets associated with a passing loved one is prepared with the utmost detail prior to death, allowing friends and relatives to fondly remember the deceased and take time to grieve.

Anderson, Dorn & Rader, and the estate planning business as a whole, aims to simplify the legal processes surrounding death so legacies can be transferred to surviving loved ones in a fair, stress-free manner. To accomplish this, savvy individuals will often take measures to ensure they don’t burden their surviving relatives with undue complications like the probate process.

Several tools are available through qualified attorneys to keep your property and monetary assets out of probate. Among these, establishing co-ownership of bank accounts and home titles, as well as lining up beneficiaries on investment and insurance accounts are great to start with. But a revocable living trust is one of the most favored comprehensive options that an individual can set up to avoid probate. Let’s check it out:

enact a trust

What is a trust?

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that grants a third party, or trustee, the legal permission to hold and manage assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. A living trust is enacted while an individual is still alive, rather than upon death. Arrangements can be made to grant you oversight duties on your own living trust until you become incapable of soundly managing your assets, or pass away. Upon your incapacitation or passing, the successor trustee assumes responsibility over the assets in the trust and manages them on behalf of all involved beneficiaries.

So How Can A Trust Help Avoid Probate?

The Probate process involves transferring ownership of all monetary assets and property that haven’t been assigned to beneficiaries, or don’t contain a pay-on-death or transfer-on-death designation upon your passing. Often times with probate, the court gets involved, and the long-winded process to account for the assets ensues.

With a trust, your assets are ready to be transferred to your beneficiaries upon your death, if they haven’t already been transferred to the trust while you’re still alive. This puts probate out of the question, as your assets are all accounted for and can be distributed in a timely manner.

Even better, trusts can incorporate pretty much any category of asset: from real estate, to stock holdings, to bank accounts, to family heirlooms. This keeps your legacy from being administered through the probate court, ensuring everything you worked for ends up in the hands of the individuals you deem as successors. Not only does this eliminate costly court costs, but it keeps your records out of the public’s eye and enables beneficiaries to remember the deceased and carry on the good fortune of the trust without running into road blocks.

The language and investment surrounding the establishment of a trust can be daunting, often prompting individuals to delay the process or put it off entirely. But to plan without a doubt where your assets will end up, and with whom, it’s vital to create a trust. It’s peace of mind for both you and your loved ones when you pass.

Trust Assistance from Trusted Northern Nevada Attorneys

Planning the details around your death is sometimes a difficult topic to breach, but can be made simpler with the help of your family and knowledgeable attorneys like Anderson Dorn & Rader. While you are ultimately at the helm when it comes to important decisions, our estate planning group truly cares about maximizing the legacy you will leave to your loved ones. For any questions about how to start the trust formation process, please give us a call or fill out our contact form. We look forward to bringing you and your family peace of mind.

Estate 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

Myths About Estate PlanningWhen 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

Myths We Convince Ourselves About Estate PlanningFor 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.



Q: What is Probate?
A: Probate is designed to create a “final accounting” upon death. It is the legal process of “proving up” a Will, or verifying that a Will is valid, takes place in one of two instances. First, if a person dies leaving behind a Will, or second, if the deceased has died intestate, that is, has not left behind a Will or estate plan of any type or the Will cannot be found.

Q: Does the Probate process take a long time?
A: Depending on the complexity of the estate and the thoroughness with which accounting has been carried out before death, probate can either be a relatively simple task or a daunting one. Be aware that no matter the situation, probate may be a lengthy process often taking months or possibly years to play out, and one which may take a considerable amount of an executor’s time.

To summarize the process, probate can be broken into six basic steps:

  1. Validation of the Will
  2. Appoint executor
  3. Inventory estate
  4. Pay claims against the estate
  5. Pay estate taxes
  6. Distribute remaining assets

Each of these steps involve legal documentation and validation, and more importantly, proper accounting each step of the way.

Q : What is Probate Court?
A: Probate begins and ends with the special Probate Court set up in each state to handle estate issues. (Sometimes known as the Orphan’s or Chancery Court in certain states.) All actions taken regarding the estate are accountable to this court, and must be noted and reported regularly. This court is staffed by special judges qualified to oversee estate resolution issues.

Q: Does the Trust Administration process take a long time?
A: To summarize the process, trust administration can be broken into five basic steps:

  1. Inventory assets
  2. Determine estate tax
  3. Division of trust assets
  4. File the Federal and State tax forms
  5. Distributions to beneficiaries

Although the trust administration process seems relatively straightforward, there are several reasons it can sometimes be drawn out over several months or even years. The first step, the inventory of assets, must be completed before the trust administration can begin, and this can be difficult to complete depending upon the prior organization and the size and complexity of the decedent’s assets. Next, the 706 estate tax return must be filed within 9 months, or 15 months if an extension is filed. Often, it is prudent to wait until the last minute to file this form. If the spouse of the decedent is in failing health and may pass away before the deadline, then both 706 forms can be used to maximize tax advantages to the estate. The final step, asset distribution, cannot take place until the 706 has been filed, and even then should not take place until the “Closing Letter” is received from the IRS certifying acceptance of the 706 return. This closing letter will take a minimum of 6 to 8 months, and as long as 3 years, to arrive after the 706 is filed. In addition, there may be a state estate or inheritance tax return required, even if a federal return is not required.

Q: I thought that a living trust avoids probate and attorney fees. Why do I have to pay more fees?
A: While having a living trust can significantly reduce costs compared to probate, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done in properly administering even a simple living trust. The services of an attorney are required, and that person or firm should be compensated fairly for their services. It is important to remember that the fees allowed for trust administration are usually much lower than those for probate, and there is generally less work involved, as there is less involvement of the courts and state bureaucracy.

Q: Can I pick and choose what assets go into the “B” trust?
A: The answer depends upon the language of the trust document. Certain trusts include “pick and choose” language that allows trustees to selectively place assets into the “B” trust.

Q: How do I transfer the car(s) into my name?A: If you are a relative of the deceased, this is simple in most states. To transfer the title of vehicles owned by the deceased, simply take the death certificate to the DMV, and perform the transfer, paying whatever fees they require. If not a relative, bringing along the will and or any trust documents indicating your status should be sufficient.

Q: What do I do about Social Security?
A: Social Security will continue to send out benefit checks until they are notified of an individual’s death. The executor/spouse/trustee should contact the local Social Security Administration office and notify them of the death, or if a benefit check is received, send it back with a letter notifying them. This is important. If checks continue to be deposited, the recipient can incur liability later when Social Security learns of the recipient’s death.

estate planningWhen we consult with clients, we often hear many of the same questions. With this in mind, we present a hypothetical question-and-answer session with a Reno estate planning lawyer in this post.

Doesn’t the state take care of everything when you die without an estate plan?

To die without an estate plan is called dying intestate. Under the rules of intestacy, the probate court would supervise the administration of the estate. Creditors would be given an opportunity to come forward seeking satisfaction, an estate is inventories and valued, disputes are resolved, and ultimately the assets would be distributed under intestate succession laws.

That’s the good news, but the bad news is that it is very possible that your assets would not be distributed in accordance with your wishes. For example, if you are happily married, you have no children, and your parents are still living, you would probably want your spouse to inherit everything. In Nevada, under intestate succession rules, your spouse would inherit half of your separate property, and your parents would inherit the rest.  Intestacy law does not appropriately deal with most issues that arise with separate property.  Further, intestacy law does not account for many modern day families, such as blended families with step-children, non-traditionally married couples, and a myriad others.

There is no reason to surrender control of your estate to the judicial process when it is so easy to engage the services of a licensed Reno estate planning lawyer.

Trusts are only for wealthy people, right?

It is true that there are some types of trusts that are used by high net worth individuals that are exposed to the federal estate tax. However, there are other types of trust that can be quite useful for people of relatively ordinary means.

Far and above the most common is the revocable living trust. If you use a last will, it would be admitted to probate after you die. The court would provide supervision, and the executor would handle the estate administration tasks.  But this process will take eight or nine months to a year to run its course, and inheritors receive nothing during this interim. There are also innumerable expenses that pile up during probate, often at a cost between 4% up to 8% of the estate value.

If you use a living trust instead, the trustee that you name in the trust agreement would be empowered to distribute assets to the beneficiaries outside of probate. This is one advantage, but there are a number of others, including the option to protect an inheritance through a trust against lawsuits, creditors, divorcing spouses, or other predators.

A living trust is beneficial whenever a client has a goal to avoid probate and make the process easy for their loved ones.  It's not only for wealthy people, but for people who want to better take care of their life planning.

Are inheritances subject to taxation?

Since the Internal Revenue Service requires you to report all sources of income, you may assume that inheritances that you leave to your loved ones would be taxed. In actuality, inheritances are not subject to taxation, with the exception of inheriting retirement accounts (such as traditional IRA or 401(k) accounts).

There is, however, a federal estate tax that might apply to your estate before everything is distributed to the beneficiaries as an inheritance.  But, the vast majority of people do not have to be concerned about the estate tax because there is a VERY large exclusion. Only the portion of your estate that exceeds the amount of this exclusion would be taxed. At the time of this writing in 2019, the exclusion stands at $11.4 million.

Attend a Free Webinar!

These are a few short questions that we frequently hear from our clients, and you can ask your own if you attend one of our upcoming Webinars. The information sessions that we hold provide a treasure trove of useful information, so we strongly encourage you to attend the Webinar that fits into your schedule. To get all the details, visit our Webinar page and follow the simple instructions to register for the date that works for you.  Starting in 2019, we are offering Webinars semi-monthly in the evening to accommodate those people that cannot attend during the middle of the day.

The idea of estate planning might be one of the scariest things you have to confront as an adult. After all, nobody wants to think about their death.  Or incapacity.  But estate planning does not have to make chills run down your spine. On the contrary!  Estate planning is empowering for both you and your family and allows you to live confidently knowing that things will be taken care of in the event of your passing or incapacity. Remember, estate planning is not just for the ultra-rich. If you own anything or have young children, you should have an estate plan. Read below to find out reasons why.

Benefits of Estate Planning

Proper estate planning accomplishes many things. It puts your financial affairs in order. Parents should designate a guardian for their minor or disabled children, so the children are cared for by someone who shares your values and parenting style. Homeowners can make sure their property is transferred to the proper beneficiary in the event of untimely death. Business owners can ensure the enterprise they’ve worked so hard to build stays within the family.
Yet, according to WealthCounsel’s 2016 Estate Planning Literacy Survey, only 40% of Americans have a will and just 17% have a trust in place. This means a majority of American families not being adequately protected against the eventual certainty of death or the potential for legal incapacity.
When it comes to estate planning, knowledge is vital. Less than 50 percent of those surveyed by WealthCounsel understood that an estate plan can be used to address several concerns - financial or non-financial matters - including health decisions and guardianship, avoiding court and preempting family conflicts, protecting an inheritance for your beneficiaries, as well as taking advantage of business and tax benefits. 

Estate Planning Horror Stories

Legal disputes over estate plans and wills - or, usually, the lack of having these in place at all - are common. These conflicts can cause harm to family relationships and be financially burdensome.  Disputes among the rich-and-famous often made headlines, but disputes among everyday folk stay buried in courts for years.
Some scary outcomes of inadequate or non-existent estate planning include:

These horror stories are not limited to wealthy celebrities. WealthCounsel’s survey found that more than one-third of respondents know someone who has experienced, or have themselves suffered, family disputes due to the failure of an existing estate plan or inadequate will. Additionally, more than half of those who have established an estate plan did so to reduce family conflict. Preserving family harmony is for everyone - not only for the wealthy or celebrities.

Attorneys: Your Guide to Not-So-Spooky Estate Planning

Estate planning can be confusing as each circumstance is unique and requires different tools to achieve the best possible outcome. Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed by WealthCounsel said estate planning was a confusing topic and valued professional guidance in learning more - so you’re not alone if you aren’t sure where to begin.
We’re here to help. An estate planning attorney is essential in determining the best way to structure your will, trust, and estate plan to fit your needs. If you or someone you know has questions about where to begin - contact us today. Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. has been protecting families and their legacies for decades.  We offer free, no-obligation Webinars every month around Northern Nevada to teach and guide people about how to plan appropriately for these inevitable issues.

probate processProbate is simply the administration of an estate through the court system after someone's death.  Nearly every estate is required to pass through probate before heirs can receive their inheritance.  While the purpose of this process is to transfer the estate in an organized fashion, there are three major disadvantages to probate, which typically lead individuals to try to avoid the process altogether.  Whether or not probate should be avoided is a decision each person should make when considering their estate planning.  Reno estate planning lawyers can help you determine whether avoiding probate is the best option for you.
Contrary to what many clients believe, the requirement of probate applies regardless of whether or not you have a valid Will.  If you have a Will, that document will determine how your estate is transferred during the probate process.  Without a Will, your assets must still go through probate based on the laws in the state where you live.

What does the probate process involve?

The two primary steps required in the probate process involve paying your debts and transferring your assets to your beneficiaries.  Although some of the specific may be different, from one state to the next, the same basic stages are followed:

If you have a Will which designates your personal representative, that person will be in charge of your estate.  If you do not have a Will, then the court will decide who will be your executor/executrix.  This is also the case if the person you selected is unable to serve and you did not specify an alternative.

Lack of privacy is a disadvantage of probate

One of the primary motivations for avoiding probate is the desire to maintain privacy regarding your estate.  The probate process is a completely public proceeding, which means that anyone who is interested will be able to attend probate hearings and access your probate records.  This means that the terms of your will, the nature of your assets, and the identity of your beneficiaries and creditors are all open to the public.  For many people, this lack of privacy is a major disadvantage of probate.

The probate process can be very costly

Based on how complicated your estate property and other assets are, the cost of probate administration can very high.  Court fees, accounting and appraisal fees, legal fees, and fees for your personal representative can all be expected.  If your estate includes a business, then there are likely to be business valuation fees, too.  There are many estate planning strategies to limit many of these expenses, and you may be able to avoid the cost of probate altogether.

Probate proceedings can take a long time to complete

The entire probate process, from beginning to end, can take months or even years to complete. Although, if you have a Will the process may be a bit quicker, there are still many transactions to be completed.  With a Will, the court will not need to determine the administrator and heirs or beneficiaries.  However, the accounting of the property will still be required. Also, real estate will need to be appraised so its value can be determined.  Creditors need to be notified. All of these necessary steps require a certain amount of time.

Is Probate Always Required?

Probate is not always inevitable, depending on the nature of your estate and the strength of your estate plan.   In fact, it is not difficult to avoid the probate process altogether. There are many different estate planning tools you can use to ensure that your property passes to your heirs, while avoiding the probate process.  However, you should consult with one of our lawyers in order to make sure you utilize the tools most suitable for you. If you have the appropriate estate planning tools in place, the probate process can be avoided.
Some examples of estate planning tools that can be used include revocable living trusts, gifts, joint ownership of property, and pay-on-death accounts.  These estate planning tools are meant just for this purpose.
If you have questions regarding probate administration, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

probate willThere are three common reasons most people choose to avoid probate.  Probate is a very public process, it can be rather expensive and, for some, it can take a long time. When trying to decide whether to take steps to avoid probate, many people ask, “if my estate requires probate, will it take a long time to complete the process?"  The answer is that it really depends on several factors.

The length of a probate proceeding depends on the estate

The length of time it will take to close the probate of an estate depends a great deal on the size of the estate and the nature of the assets included. In most cases, basic probate proceedings last at least 120-180 days due to the need to publish notice to creditors and allow them time to file their valid claims. If there are any problems with the probate process may take longer.  Generally speaking, most probate proceedings take almost a year to complete.  If there is a contested Will, the process can stretch on for years.

Complicated or unique assets make the process longer

In reality, probate takes much longer when there are unique assets that require special handling. Most often, the most complicated asset to deal with is an operating business; if you have a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or closely-held corporation, the probate process can be drawn out even longer.  When there is a Will, the probate process is often more straightforward and less difficult to handle.  With a Will, the personal representative and the heirs or beneficiaries have already been chosen and identified.  Therefore, less time is required awaiting the court's decision on those matters.

What makes the probate process so lengthy

The main reason probate takes so long is because there are many different tasks that must be accomplished in every probate case, all of which are governed by Nevada statutes. The personal representative is the person assigned to handle most of the leg work involved.  That person must follow the necessary steps, keep appropriate records, and make an accounting of the assets in the estate and what has been done with them.  With almost every step in the probate process, there are petitions that must wait for a court hearing, statutory waiting periods, and statutory timelines for certain steps to be done.

The basic steps in probate will require some time to complete

The property in the estate must be collected and inventoried.  Nevada requires that the inventory must be completed within 60 days!  Most valuable personal property, and all real estate, needs to be appraised.  There is a requirement that notice of the decedent's death be given creditors so they can make legitimate claims.  This typically means placing a Notice of Creditors in the local newspapers so that all potential creditors have a chance to make a claim and collect legitimate debts owed to them by the deceased.
A similar notice, a Notice of Administration is sent to anyone else who may have an interest in the estate.  That would include heirs and beneficiaries named in a Will. Once creditors, legal judgments, taxes and related expenses have been paid, the remaining assets are then divided and distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries.

Four ways to distribute assets in Nevada

There are four ways to distribute the assets of a decedent under Nevada law: (1) Affidavit of Entitlement, (2) Set Aside, (3) Summary Administration, and (4) General Administration. These different procedures all accomplish the same goal. However some methods are a bit more involved than others. Deciding which method applies will depend on the value of the estate, according to Nevada law.

Affidavit of Entitlement

If the estate is valued at less than $25,000 ($100,000 if the beneficiary is a surviving spouse) and there is no real estate involved, then all that is required is an Affidavit of Entitlement to transfer the estate without full probate court proceedings. Instead, the affidavit authorizes the release of the assets to the named beneficiaries.

Set Aside Method

For estates with a value less than $100,000, excluding mortgages, the assets can be distributed simply by Court Order based on the terms of the Will or the laws of intestate succession, whichever applies. With the Set Aside method, the appointment of an executor or administrator is not required.

Summary Administration

If an estate is valued between $100,000 and $300,000, it is necessary to open probate proceedings with the probate court. In that case, an executor or administrator will be appointed to manage the proceedings. With Summary Administration, distribution of the estate can only occur after 90 days. Summary Administration is more streamlined than General Administration.

General Administration

In situations where the value of the estate exceeds $300,000, then full probate proceedings are required. Creditors must be given notice so they can file their claims within 90 days. General Administration is inherently more extensive than Summary Administration proceedings. The Personal Representative obtains “Letters Testamentary” from the probate court if there is a Will, or “Letters of Administration” if there is no Will. These letters, issued by the probate court, provide the legal authority and responsibility of the Personal Representative.
Attend a FREE Webinar to learn more about probate, the reasons to avoid probate, and the way to properly execute an estate plan to do so! If you have questions regarding probate, or any other estate planning issues, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. for a consultation, either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

intestateYou may have heard the term "intestate" or "intestacy" before, but wondered what it means. As your estate planning attorney can explain, the term "intestate" simply means dying without a will. So, intestate succession refers to how property will be distributed after your death, if you die without a will or any other estate planning instruments.

What does it mean to die intestate?

If you have no plan then the probate court in your county of residence will be left to determine how to distribute your property based on the laws of intestate succession in your state. Based on those laws, to whom your property will be distributed depends on which of your relatives has survived you. Dying intestate means you have no control who will receive an inheritance and what they will receive.

Nevada’s Laws of Intestate Succession

When it is time to probate your estate, typically the only assets that are involved are those that you own solely in your name. If you own joint property it will not be included but will instead pass automatically to your co-owner. There are also other types of property that are not affected by the laws of intestate succession in Reno:

Who inherits property in Nevada when there is no will

In Nevada, your property goes to your spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, and descendants of siblings, in that order. In other words, if only one of these relatives survives you, that relative inherits everything. If, for example, you have two children or two siblings they will divide your property equally.  If you have no living spouse, children, parents, siblings, or descendants of siblings, your property will go to a more remote beneficiary, such as an aunt or uncle, first cousin, second cousin, or even a fourth cousin-thrice removed.

Estate involving community property

Nevada is one of a few Community Property states.  If you are married at the time of your death, your spouse inherits all of your community property.  “Community property” is property acquired while you were married. The exception is that gifts and inheritances given to only one spouse, even if acquired during marriage, are not considered community property.  Everything that had been acquired during marriage that is community property will be transferred to your surviving spouse.
Your separate property, however, will be divided 1/2 to your spouse and 1/2 to your children, if living, or your grandchildren.  If you do not have any living descendants, 1/2 of your separate property will go to your parents, siblings, or nieces and nephews, again depending upon what relatives have survived you.

Legal definition of “children” in Nevada

Children who have been legally adopted, will receive a share along with any biological children. However, foster children or stepchildren who were not legally adopted do not automatically receive a share. Children that have been placed for adoption and who were legally adopted by another family are no longer entitled to a share of your estate.
Children conceived but not born before your death (posthumous children) can still receive a share of your estate. Children born outside of marriage can only receive a share of your estate if it can be proven that you acknowledge them as your children and contributed to their support.
This is EXTREMELY important because intestacy laws were drafted based upon an antiquated model of a "traditional" family.  These laws do not account for second marriages, blended families, or non-traditional relationships that are extremely common in today's day and age.

Special situations that could apply in your case

Siblings with only one parent in common, so-called “half” siblings, inherit as any other sibling would. Relatives entitled to an intestate share of your property will inherit whether or not they are citizens or legally reside in the United States. Finally, Nevada has a “killer” rule which says that anyone who feloniously and intentionally kills you, will not receive a share of your estate.

Avoiding the laws of intestate succession

In order to avoid your estate being distributed according to the laws of intestate succession you must create an estate plan. A comprehensive estate plan will see that your debts are paid and designated how and to whom the remainder of your estate will be distributed. The most basic estate planning instrument is a last will and testament. A will is your written instructions as to how you want your estate to be handled when you die. One drawback of using a will is that the property must go through probate before your assets can be distributed.  There are other ways to avoid probate, and a properly drafted estate plan prepared by an attorney can also help avoid probate and many other issues that commonly become problems when someone dies.
Attend a FREE Webinar today! If you have questions regarding intestate succession in Reno, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

pour over willIf one of your goals in estate planning is to avoid probate through a revocable living trust, you should also have a "pour over" will.  Pour over wills allow certain property that passes through your will at your death to be poured into (or transferred) to a trust.  At that point, the property is distributed to your trust beneficiaries.

Benefits of pour over wills

A revocable living trust only governs the assets that have been transferred under the Trust Agreement.  Any assets that are not funded into the trust during someone's life will have to go to probate and administered by the person's will.  Most estate planning attorneys believe that handling all of your assets with one document, a trust agreement, is easier than trying to handling the estate through two processes (through both a probate administration and a private trust administration).  There are, in fact, several advantages to creating a pour over will. When all of your assets are controlled by one document, there is less room for confusion.  Also, a pour over will takes care of those assets that you may have neglected to transfer to the trust, before your death.
Another advantage is the privacy that you can maintain with the trust that a simply will does not provide.  Wills become public record with the probate court, which means they are available to everyone who is interested in looking at them.  Using a pour over will to transfer your assets to a trust keeps the details of your assets and your beneficiaries private.

Some drawbacks of pour over wills

The biggest disadvantage to using a pour over will is that the property must still pass through probate. Therefore, the distribution of any property headed toward the trust could be delayed in probate before it can be distributed to the trust. This could take months.  On the other hand, if the property is passed on through a living trust directly, without first going through a pour over will, the property are likely to receive their inheritances within a few weeks.  A pour over will should be a "backup" method of funding a trust; it is much more efficient to have the trustor(s) transfer assets into the trust while they are still living in order to avoid probate entirely.

Only certain property might need be included in the pour over will

Generally, most of your assets will not pass through the pour over will.  Instead, if you have a proper estate plan, your most valuable assets will already be transferred to a living trust.  Only the property that remains, minor assets and anything unintentionally omitted from the trust, will pass under the terms of the will.  As such, the probate procedure will likely be simpler and less time consuming, based on the size of the probate estate.

The responsibilities of the executor of a pour over will

Just like any other type of will, a pour over will must nominate an executor to wrap up the estate after your death. The duties of the executor often include collecting the assets, satisfying debts and paying taxes, then ultimately distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.  These tasks are much simpler for the executor of a pour over will.  The only duty is to take all of the assets identified in the pour over will and transfer them to the trust.  Generally, the executor of a pour over will is the same person or entity that is the trustee of the trust to which the assets are transferred - that makes it extremely easy for the same person to administer the entire estate.

Choosing a trustee for your trust

A trustee is a vital part of every trust.  The trustee is the person who must ensure that the terms of your trust are followed.  A common choice for trustee is an adult relative or a trusted friend.  Selecting someone you know personally has its benefits, of course.  You are likely to receive personal attention from someone you know, and they may not be inclined to charge a fee.  However, acting as a Trustee is not necessarily a privilege!  There is a lot of work in the administration of a trust, and a personal relative or friend might not have the time, energy, or know-how to effectively administer the trust.

Choosing financial institutions or other professionals as trustees

Another option is a financial institution. Certainly, financial institutions and trust companies are qualified and capable of serving as trustees.  Indeed, these institutions have the knowledge and expertise in managing funds which would provide a sense of comfort.  However, financial institutions and trust companies are typically more expensive and charge their fees based upon a percentage of the trust estate.  A licensed professional is another option, and their fees are typically lower.

Why do I need a successor trustee?

Once the assets have been transferred to the trust, they become the responsibility of the successor trustee (the person you named in your living trust to take over at your death or incapacity). The duties of a successor trustee are similar to that of an executor, except that the trustee has control over the trust assets only and may administer those assets privately outside of court.  The successor trustee has no control over property that is part of your probate estate.
If you have questions regarding a pour over will, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

Why Does Probate Takes So Long in Nevada from Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd.
The length of time it will take to complete the probate of an estate depends a great deal on the size and nature of the estate. In many cases, routine probate proceedings will last at least 120-180 days because of the requirement of publishing notice to creditors and allowing them time to file their claims. Learn more about why does probate takes so long in Nevada this presentation.

probate codeNevada's probate statutes are a set of laws pertaining to issues relating to wills and estates.  There is a Uniform Probate Code (UPC) which is meant to simply the probate process and standardize the laws regarding wills, trusts, and intestacy.  The Uniform Probate Code also deals with gifts as well.  Since the probate code is likely to impact your estate plan in some way here is an overview of several of its important aspects.
Why is a standardized set of laws necessary?
Both federal and state governments have the authority to enact their own law as long as those laws conform to the mandates of the U.S. Constitution.  When the UPC was first drafted, the intent was that all states would adopt its requirements.  However, since the original version was first enacted in 1969, only a few states have adopted it in its entirety.  Nevada has not.  Many states have adopted parts of the UPC. However, there remains substantial differences in those state's laws.

What does the probate process involve?

"Probate" is the legal process in which the assets and debts left behind after someone dies are handled by the court. Your estate is distributed to your heirs, after paying your creditors.  The probate process is supervised by the probate court.  The probate process involves the components of estate administration, including the following:

Each state has its own laws or statutes that deal with probate administration.  In Nevada, there are basically four different procedures of probate administration in Nevada.

Nevada’s Laws of Intestate Succession

When it is time to settle your estate, typically the only assets that are involved are those that you own in your name only.  Those are the assets that will pass to your heirs through the laws of intestate succession. If you own property in joint tenancy it will not be included, but will instead pass to the surviving joint tenant.  There are also other types of property that are not affected by the laws of intestate succession in Reno:

Who will inherit my property?

In most states, including Nevada, if you decease without a will and there is no beneficiary designation attached to your assets upon your death then ownership of your property will transfer to your spouse, children, parents or siblings, pursuant to Nevada's intestacy statutes.  For example, if your spouse and one child survive you, your spouse will inherit half of your property and the child will inherit the other half.  If you are survived by a spouse and more than 1 child then 1/3 of your estate will be inherited by your spouse and your children will inherit the other two-thirds in equal shares.

Avoiding the laws of intestate succession

In order to avoid the laws of intestate succession distributing your property for you, after your death, you must create an estate plan.  A comprehensive estate plan will see that your debts are paid and designated how and to whom the remainder of your estate will be distributed. The most basic estate planning instrument is a last will and testament.  A will is your written instructions as to how you want your estate to be handled when you die.

Avoiding Probate

If you execute a will, all of your property must pass through probate, which is an expensive, time-consuming and public process.  Contrary to what many people think, it is not difficult to avoid probate.  Some simple methods of making sure your property passes to the heirs you choose, without going through probate, include establishing a revocable living trust, pay-on-death accounts and registrations and joint ownership of property and gifts.  Consult with a Nevada estate planning attorney to explore which options are best for you.
If you have questions regarding probate court, or any other probate issues, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

probate attorneysThe basic probate process is already time-consuming, taking years to complete in some cases.  However, did you know that if you have property located in a state other than where you live, your estate will be subjected to another separate probate process?  Probate attorneys have experience handling, what is referred to as, ancillary probate.  The question is: can it be avoided?

What does ancillary probate mean?

The term “ancillary,” in the legal context, means a legal proceeding that is not primary, but which aids in the rendering an outcome in the main proceeding.  In other words, if upon your death you are a resident of Nevada, the primary probate proceeding would take place in Nevada.  If you own real estate in Florida, an  ancillary proceeding in Florida would aid the probate court in Nevada in completing probate of the entire estate, including the property in Florida.

When is ancillary probate necessary?

Basically, the rules require that real estate is probated in the state where the real estate is located.  So, if you are a resident of Nevada, your real estate where your residence is located will be probated along with your other assets – in Nevada.  But, if you have a summer home in Florida, then there would need to be an ancillary probate proceeding in Florida for that particular property.  Why?  Because only the Florida court would have jurisdiction over the Florida property.

The Ancillary Probate Process

Most personal representatives who are faced with ancillary probate contact probate attorneys in the state where the out-of-state property is located.  Probate is always commenced in the deceased’s state of residence.  The second probate proceeding is then opened in the other state.  Once the will has been accepted by the probate court in the primary proceeding, it is typically accepted by the other court as a “foreign will.”

How you can avoid ancillary probate

If you want to spare your family the stress and cost of an ancillary probate court proceeding after your death, you should definitely consider incorporating some common estate planning tools that can help them avoid ancillary probate.  The most common methods include:

Probate attorneys in the state where your other property is located can provide you with other useful methods, so be sure to discuss this issue with them.

Using a Revocable Living Trust to avoid ancillary probate

Living trusts are very helpful estate planning tools and they are quite similar to a will.  Trusts have an added advantage, though, of keeping property from becoming part of your probate estate. How does this work?  When you transfer property (including real estate) to a trust, then the trustee actually owns the property, not you.  Since the property is owned by the trust and is not subject to disposition according to the terms of your will or the laws of intestate succession upon your death, it does not need to be probated.

Transfer-on-death deed can avoid ancillary probate

Another way to avoid ancillary probate is by recording a transfer-on-death deed for the property.  The process is simple.  The deed will identify the person you choose to receive the property upon your death.  At that time, the property is transferred directly to your named beneficiary without going through probate.

Joint ownership of property avoids probate

Joint ownership is another simple way of avoiding ancillary probate.  When property is owned jointly and one owner dies, the surviving joint owner retains ownership of the property automatically.  That way, there is no need to go through the probate process in order to transfer the property.  There are several different types of joint ownership, so discuss your options with your probate attorney.

Don’t forget to include out-of-state property in your trust

It is quite common for people to transfer their primary residence to their trust, but forget to include their timeshare or a vacation home.  In fact, this is one of the most common estate planning mistakes.  If all of your property is not included in the trust, you cannot avoid probate.
If you have questions regarding ancillary probate, or any other probate administration needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

avoiding probateIf you ask most people about the purpose of an estate plan, they will tell you avoiding probate is the primary goal.  But how many people really understand what this means?  There are a few misconceptions regarding what an estate plan does and how it can actually avoid the probate process.

Understanding the probate process

Basically, probate is the process through which the assets of an estate are distributed to beneficiaries when there is no other way to do it.  Assets or property that are transferred through a trust or other estate planning tool can be distributed to beneficiaries according to the terms of those documents without the need for a probate judge to oversee the process.  Probate is the method of last resort, overseen by a court, for distributing an estate to its beneficiaries.

Why should I try to avoid probate?

There are three primary reasons most people choose to avoid probate.  First, the process is a public court proceeding, which means that anyone can have access to the contents of your will, your finances, your debts, and the identity of your beneficiaries.  A second reason is that probate can be expensive, depending on the nature of your assets and property.  Fees associated with probate include court fees, attorney fees, accounting fees, fees for appraisals, if necessary, and fees for the executor's services, to name a few.  Some reports estimate the overall cost of the probate process between 4% and 10% of the value of the probate estate.  Finally, the entire probate process usually takes a significant period of time – months or even years.  Although having a will may shorten that time, it can still be a lengthy process.  During that time, any decisions about the management of the probate estate (such as the decision to sell stock that is losing value) and any distributions (such as paying for a beneficiary's medical or educational costs) usually must first be approved by the court, which can cause significant problems for many people.

Ways to keep your assets out of probate

Leaving your property to your heirs basically requires transferring ownership of that property to those individuals.  There are several ways this can be accomplished outside of probate.  Some of the most common ways to transfer ownership outside of probate include (1) transferring your assets to a revocable living trust, the terms of which will direct a Trustee to distribute the estate according to your wishes, (2) joint ownership of property (such as joint tenancy), which will automatically transfer assets to the surviving co-owner upon your death, and (3) pay-on-death or transfer-on-death designations, which allow certain assets to be transferred directly to named beneficiaries - all of these without court involvement. If done correctly, using any or all of these methods will allow you to avoid the time, expense and publicity of the probate process.

Transfer of an estate through pay-on-death accounts and transfer-on-death instruments

One alternative to leaving your estate to probate is to convert your bank and investment accounts into payable-on-death accounts.  The process is very simple.  You need only list your beneficiaries on those accounts so that, when you die, the money will be automatically transferred to your named beneficiary without the need for probate.
Basically, the process is the same for securities, vehicle registrations, and real estate for transfer-on-death instruments in Nevada.  These legal documents allow you to transfer assets, such as real estate, by identifying a beneficiary in the title itself, such as a deed.  This beneficiary provision will not take effect until after your death and these documents can be revoked at any time during your life, and the property is not required to go through probate.
While these tools can be useful in avoiding probate, they may not accomplish your goals of protecting assets for your loved ones, and they may ultimately end up being given to an unintended beneficiary.

Joint ownership of property

Joint ownership is another simple option for avoiding probate.  Upon the death of the first owner, the surviving joint owner will retain ownership of that property without going through probate.  There are different types of joint ownership available depending on your needs or the type of property you own.  Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship will allow the property to transfer automatically to the surviving joint owner upon the death of the first owner.  Similarly, Community Property with Right of Survivorship will accomplish the same goals, and may also add some tax benefits for your surviving spouse.


Giving a gift of property to your loved ones while you are still alive is another common way to avoid probate.  This method words to avoid probate because, obviously, if you no longer own the property when you pass away there is no need for the property to go through probate.  Accordingly, the cost of probate is decreased because the expense of probate is connected to the value of the assets passing through probate. Another benefit is that gifts may not be subject to federal gift tax.

Transfer of an estate through a revocable living trust

Living trusts are a very common estate planning tool created to allow individuals to avoid probate while still maintaining control over that property during their lifetime.  With a living trust, you transfer assets to your trust during your lifetime and maintain the same rights and responsibilities as to the trust property (i.e. no loss of control). This removes the property from your estate so that the property does not go through the probate process.  The only catch is that the property is still considered part of your estate for the purposes of federal estate taxes.  Like a will, the trust document allows you to determine how your property will be distributed, however the trust can allow you to add protections for your loved ones to avoid assets being lost to divorce, creditors, lawsuits, and other liabilities.  After you death, your trustee has the authority to quickly and simply transfer the trust property to your intended beneficiaries, without the need for probate.
If you have questions regarding avoiding probate, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

The Probate Process in Nevada

In Nevada, if the deceased person's assets exceed $20,000, or if there is real estate involved, probate is normally required. 
Topics covered in this whitepaper include:

  1. When Does a Probate Need to be Opened?
  2. Summary Administration vs. General Administration
  3. How Do I Start Probate or Administration Proceedings?
  4. When is Probate Not Required in Nevada?
  5. How Long Does Probate or Administration Take?
  6. Can Probae Be Avoided?

Click here to read the whole article or download the PDF.

Intestate Succession in Nevada

When you have no plan, the probate court will determine how to handle your assets, based on the laws of intestate succession. Based on those laws, to whom your property will be distributed depends on which of your relatives survived you.
Topics covered in this whitepaper include:

  1. Nevada's Laws of Intestate Succession
  2. Who Will Inherit My Property?
  3. Community Property
  4. Legal Definition of "Children"
  5. Special Circumstances That May Apply
  6. Avoiding the Laws of Intestate Succession
  7. Avoiding Probate

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