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Avoiding Guardianship and Probate Court in Nevada

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.

Joint Tenancy

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.

Beneficiary Designations

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.

Revocable Living Trust

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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