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.

living trust

Far too many people automatically assume that a last will is the right asset transfer vehicle, but this is a shortsighted perspective. There are many different types of trusts that can be utilized, and some of them are ideal for people that are not extraordinarily wealthy.

The trust that is optimal for the widest array of people is the revocable living trust. These trusts provide several advantages, but we are going to focus on one aspect here.

Estate Administration

If you were to use a last will to state your final wishes, the administrator would be the executor that you name in the document. The executor will have to identify and inventory all of the assets that comprise the estate to prepare them for distribution to the heirs.

In some cases, this is complicated because there can be many different ownership documents and financial accounts to run down. Even if it is relatively easy to locate them, it is a daunting administrative task.

During probate, the estate will be probated by the court. This process will typically take at least nine months, even if there are no estate challenges or other unusual difficulties. No inheritances can be distributed during this interim.

When a living trust has been established, the administrator is the trustee. Your trustee can be an individual that you know personally, but there is another option. Trust companies, the trust department of banks, and some law firms will handle trustee duties (including ours).

Granted, there are some costs involved when you use a professional fiduciary, but it can be worthwhile under certain circumstances.

When you fund a living trust, the trust will become the owner of the property. It should be noted that you do not have to put everything that you own into the trust. You would also have total access to trust assets while you are living, so you do not surrender control.

You would act as the trustee throughout your life, and in the trust declaration, you would name a successor trustee to assume the role after you die. When the time comes, it would be simple for the trustee to handle the duties, because all or most of the assets would be contained in the trust.

To account for assets that may be in your personal possession at the time of your death, you can include a pour-over will when you establish your overall estate plan. This type of will would allow your personal resources to be “poured over” into the trust after your passing.

Another aspect of the trust administration process that is very efficient is the avoidance of probate. The trustee would be able to distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes, and the distributions would not be subject to probate.

Schedule a Consultation Today!

If you already know enough to recognize that action is required, we would be more than glad to help. We are well aware of the potential impact of the novel coronavirus, and your safety is our top priority. We are offering consultations by phone or in our office following CDC guidelines. To set the wheels in motion, send us a message to request a consultation appointment or call at 775-823-9455.

probate 4Probate is the legal process of estate administration. We practice law in Nevada, and in our state, the probate court in the county that the decedent resided in would supervise the process.

In this blog post, we will provide some answers to frequently asked questions about probate.

Why does probate exist?

In an estate planning context, probate exists to provide supervision when an estate is being administered. If the last will is used as a vehicle of asset transfer, an executor would be named to administer the estate. The will would be admitted to probate, and the administration process would get underway.

The court is involved to protect interested parties. To explain by way of example, let’s assume that a friend borrowed $100,000 from you. Unfortunately, he passes away in a car accident before he could pay you. His family does not know about this debt, and they don’t particularly like you.

If there was no supervision, they could just distribute the resources that are contained in your friend’s estate and leave you out in the cold. Probate exists to give creditors a chance to come forward seeking satisfaction. The executor is required to notify creditors about the passing of the decedent.

Another form of protection that is provided by probate is the ability to challenge the validity of a will. There are some instances where challenges are very legitimate, and there would be no window of opportunity if the probate process was not in place.

Intestacy is another situation that can enter the picture when someone passes away without a last will or any other estate planning document. Under these circumstances, the probate court would take control of the situation, and ultimately, the assets in the estate would be distributed under intestate laws of succession.

Do all asset transfers have to go through probate?

There are certain types of postmortem asset transfers that are not subject to the probate process. If you have life insurance, the company would deliver the proceeds to the beneficiary directly. The court would have no involvement. This is also true if you have named a beneficiary to assume ownership of the remainder that is left in your individual retirement account after your passing. When you open a bank account, you have the option of adding a beneficiary. This is called a transfer on death or payable on death account. Brokerage accounts also offer this option. When you have this type of account, the beneficiary cannot access the funds while you are alive.

For payable on death accounts, the beneficiary would obtain a death certificate. It would be presented to the bank or brokerage, and the beneficiary would assume ownership of the assets. The court would not be involved.

It is possible to add someone to the title or deed of your home as a co-owner. This is called joint tenancy, and it comes with right of survivorship. If you do this, the person that you add as a joint tenant would become the sole owner of the home after you die. This transfer would not be subject to the probate process.

A revocable living trust is another estate planning tool that is very useful, and it is a good alternative to a last will. You can consolidate assets with this type of trust, and you can instruct the trustee to distribute assets over an extended period of time if you choose to do so. It is also possible to name someone to manage the assets in the trust if you ever become incapacitated.

In addition to these benefits, assets in a living trust can be distributed to the beneficiaries outside of probate. The same thing is true with assets that are in some other type of trust.

Is there any reason why I would want to avoid probate?

There are some drawbacks that go along with the process. It will take close to a year to run its course, and the inheritors do not receive their inheritances during this interim. There are expenses that reduce the amount of the inheritances that will be received, and it is an open proceeding, so privacy is lost.

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If you would like to build on your estate planning knowledge, download our worksheet. It is being offered free of charge right now, and you can click this link to gain access to your copy.

estate planningIn some instances, a client will come to us looking for help because of a bad situation that has developed due to a lack of informed planning. We do what we can under these circumstances, and there are damage control strategies that can sometimes be implemented.

These situations are a bit frustrating for us, because we know how easy it could have been to avoid the difficulties. With this in mind, we will look at a handful of common estate planning mistakes that are made in an effort to increase awareness.

Failure to Consider the Value of a Trust

If you have been successful enough to be able to leave behind a suitable legacy for your loved ones, a last will may not be the right choice for you as an asset transfer vehicle. The notion that trusts are only for the wealthy is a major misconception that is harbored by far too many individuals that are not well-informed.

As we will look at in another section, there are certain types of trust that can be useful for people that have advanced estate planning concerns, like death tax exposure. This being stated, a revocable living trust is a legal device that can be useful for a wide range of people that are not in the upper financial stratosphere.

A living trust would actually not be the right choice for high net worth individuals. You retain incidents of ownership when you establish this type of trust, because you can in fact revoke the trust, and you can act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are alive and well.

This is a positive for many people that would not like to surrender control of their assets permanently. It would not be good for those that want to get assets out of their own name for certain reasons.

One of the major benefits that you gain through the creation of a revocable living trust is the avoidance of probate. This is a time-consuming, intrusive, and expensive legal process that would enter the picture if you use a last will to state your final wishes.

All the assets are consolidated in one place, and this is another positive. Plus, with a last will, there is an open forum for disgruntled parties to present estate challenges. It is much more difficult to contest the terms of a revocable living trust.

Unfortunately, countless families find out about the pitfalls of wills and the probate process when it is too late to do anything about it.

Enabling a Spendthrift

Another problem with a last will is the fact that, generally speaking, you would be facilitating lump-sum asset transfers to the people that are named in the document. A spendthrift inheritor could burn through their inheritance much too quickly and have nowhere to turn for assistance later on.

If you use a living trust instead of a will, you could include a spendthrift provision. This would allow the trustee to distribute assets to the beneficiary incrementally in accordance with your wishes. The resources would also be out of the reach of the beneficiary’s creditors.

Choosing the Wrong Estate Administrator

As we have stated, you can act as the trustee of your living trust while you are alive. In the trust declaration, you name a successor trustee to handle the trust administration tasks after you pass away. Some people choose someone that they know personally that they trust in a broad sense, but this can be a major blunder.

It takes a significant amount of financial acumen to administer a living trust effectively, and there are legal guidelines that must be followed to the letter. The trust administration process can be time intensive, and the trustee could face personal liability issues if mistakes are made.

You can avoid these potential problems if you engage a professional that offers fiduciary services. We would be more than glad to act as the trustee of your living trust or any other type of trust that you create during the estate planning process.

When you have a professional at the helm, you can be certain that your trust will be administered properly.

Let’s Get Started!

We are here to help if you would like to consult with a licensed estate planning attorney. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 775-823-9455.

fiduciaryLaypeople often think about estate planning as something that is resolved after you execute certain documents. While it is true that you must state your final wishes in writing, you should also consider the estate administration process that will unfold after you are gone.

In the trust declaration, you name a successor trustee to administer the vehicle when the time comes, and your heirs would be the beneficiaries. It is possible to use someone that you know personally to act as the trustee, but it is not a ceremonial role that you bestow upon someone as an honor.

The trustee has a fiduciary duty to the grantor and the beneficiaries. This means that the administrator must always act in the best interests of the parties that are involved.

There are very specific rules that must be followed to administer the trust in accordance with legal standards, and this is one thing to take into consideration. You should also be concerned about the longevity of the trustee and potential real or perceived conflicts of interest.

Depending on the nature of the assets, the trustee may be called upon to handle investments, and this is another level of responsibility that requires considerable expertise. The administrator that you choose must also have the time and the willingness to undertake all of these tasks.

Professional Fiduciary Services

In a real sense, finding the ideal trustee among your immediate contacts is kind of like the search for the mythical unicorn. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that you are making a connection with a professional fiduciary that you can rely on for top-notch trust administration services right now.

AD&R can assume this role after you pass away if you want to be certain that your living trust is administered in accordance with professional standards. This is a major area of specialization for our firm, and we should point out the fact that we can act as the trustee for more complex types of trusts.

The Special Needs Trust is an example of a complex trust. This would be an irrevocable trust, and the beneficiary would not be allowed to touch the principal at all. However, the trustee that you name in the declaration would be empowered to use assets in the trust to make the beneficiary more comfortable in many different ways. As you may imagine, the rules and regulations are complex, so the trustee must understand them thoroughly to preserve benefit eligibility.

You definitely do not want to take any chances when the stakes are this high, and very few people that are not professionals have any knowledge about the way that a special needs trust should be administered. This is where we can enter the picture to provide fiduciary services.

Schedule a Consultation Today!

Our doors are open if you would like to consult with our professional fiduciary. You can send us a message to request an appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 775-823-9455.

 

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