Because Court processes for both guardianship (in the event of your disability) and probate (in the event of death) matters can be lengthy, costly and public, many people choose to avoid it. There are a number of legal strategies that will allow you to pass property to another person after death, without going through probate.
Adding another person to your assets as a joint owner or “joint tenant with rights of survivorship” will allow your property to pass to them upon your death without going through probate. There are pitfalls to this strategy, however, including the fact that the other owner is considered a 100% owner of the asset, just as you are. This means they will have access to the asset (such as a checking account) while you are alive. Also, the asset could be subject to any claims (such as lawsuits) against the co-owner and available to the co-owner’s creditors – all while you are still alive and planning on using the asset yourself.
Nevada does allow Transfer on Death (TOD) or Pay on Death (POD) beneficiary designations to be added to bank accounts. You can even transfer real estate directly, outside of probate, with a Beneficiary Deed. Beneficiary designations like these are preferable to joint tenancy in that they allow you to transfer property upon your death without giving away current ownership. One of the drawbacks, however, is that it can be difficult to obtain an equitable distribution of property among your heirs by utilizing beneficiary designations. Additionally, understand that if you have beneficiaries listed on your assets, those assets will be distributed upon your death to the listed beneficiaries, even if your last will and testament states otherwise. Also, if you are married, you need to take into account your spouse’ s community property interests before changing the title or beneficiary designation of assets.
A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that allows you to establish a separate entity (the trust) to “hold” legal title to your assets while you are alive, and to name trustees to manage those assets according to the trust terms. Typically, you serve as the trustee while you are alive, managing your assets for your own benefit. Upon your disability or death, the trust terms name your successor trustee to continue to manage – or distribute – the assets held in trust. A properly drafted and maintained trust can accomplish many goals, including guardianship and probate avoidance for your estate and bloodline, marital and creditor protection for your children.
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Perhaps one of the most important reasons to create an estate plan is to pass on your values and beliefs. Clients often think that estate planning is just about how to divide their property after they pass away. Others think that estate planning is just about saving taxes. And still yet others think it is just about “documents” such as wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, and health care documents. Good estate planning should also focus on taking care of you while you’re alive and provide you with optimum flexibility in the event you become disabled, so you can indirectly retain “control” to a limited extent.
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Historically speaking, the federal estate tax is an excise tax levied on the transfer of a person’s assets after death. In actuality, it is neither a death tax nor an inheritance tax, but more accurately a transfer tax. There are three distinct aspects to federal estate taxes that comprise what is called the Unified Transfer Tax: Estate Taxes, Gift Taxes, and Generation-Skipping Transfer Taxes. Legal planning to avoid or minimize federal estate taxes is both a prudent and an important aspect of comprehensive estate planning.
Asset protection planning involves making prudent decisions today to protect yourself, your business, and your hard-earned assets from loss due to lawsuits, creditors or bankruptcies.
Family businesses are the backbone of the American economy. From agriculture to services, technology and manufacturing, family businesses generate an estimated one-half of the U.S. Gross National Product and pay half of all wages earned in this country.
We encourage and assist the tradition of giving to charitable causes, including the employment of tax-advantaged strategies that maximize the value of your gift. We help clients make charitable gifts and practice good stewardship in the most tax-efficient manner.
Probate, estate and trust administration are the processes through which estate assets are transferred after death. When “probate avoidance” planning has not been implemented prior to death, the state of Nevada requires a probate court proceeding for estates valued at more than $20,000. Nevada also requires appointment of a personal representative and a formal probate court proceeding for estates of more than $100,000. The personal representative’s duties and the probate process itself will vary depending on the nature and value of the estate assets, the terms of the will (if there is one), and etc. The Sundvick Legacy Center can help make the process easier, more efficient, and provide peace of mind during a difficult time.