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Estate Planning: The Devil Is in the Details

July 17, 2013

The process of estate planning involves some very measured and informed decision-making. If you make certain assumptions as a layperson you may be making errors of commission and omission.
Because of the fact that there are websites on the Internet selling do-it-yourself generic, fill-in-the-blanks last wills, more and more people are getting the idea that they can go it alone. Unfortunately, this is increasing the numbers of people who are not properly prepared.
With a will, you need to consider the fact that your estate must be probated before the heirs receive their inheritances. The probate laws in the state of Nevada require rigid formalities that may cause delay and expense if they are not followed precisely.
When you work with a qualified estate planning attorney who is licensed in Nevada you can be certain that your will is properly constructed.
If you use a boilerplate document that you picked up on the Internet or at the book store you have no way of knowing if the will is truly up to par.
And then there is the simple fact that a last will may not be your best choice.
Last Will Alternatives
The probate process that we mentioned above is time-consuming, and, when all the costs, fees and expenses are considered, quite expensive.
There are effective ways to arrange for asset transfers to your heirs directly, outside of probate. One of them would be through the creation of a revocable living trust.
With these trusts you can retain control of the assets while you are alive and well. If you were to become incapacitated, your successor trustee would be empowered to handle your financial affairs, usually avoiding the need for a guardianship.
Upon your passing the trustee administers the estate outside the probate court and then distributes assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes.
Specialized Concerns
There is no one-size-fits-all estate plan because different families have different concerns. For instance, if you have estate tax exposure you must take steps to position your assets in a tax efficient manner to avoid a 40% hit.
If asset protection is a concern you would implement certain strategies that would not be important if you were not concerned about shielding assets from creditors and litigants.
Special needs planning is a factor for some people. You have to be careful about the way you set aside money for a person with a disability who is relying on government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.
People who are owners of small businesses are going to have estate planning concerns that differ from those who work for someone other than themselves.
These are just a few examples of the unique circumstances that require varied approaches.
Decision Makers
It is also important to include an incapacity component within your estate plan. The courts could, at considerable expense to your estate, appoint a guardian to manage your affairs if you don't take the appropriate action. This guardian may not be someone that you would have chosen.
You can select potential future decision-makers using an appropriate revocable living trust combined with a durable power of attorney.
All these solutions are best handled with a qualified estate planning law firm.

Wealth Counsel
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