Establishing an estate plan is critically important for everyone, regardless of age or amount of wealth, because it gives you the peace of mind of knowingthat your assets, health care decisions, and family responsibilities are taken care of. There are ultimately two goals for an effective estate plan. First, an estate plan must make sure that all of the assets you have spent some much time working for are protected and will be passed on to your loved ones. Second, an estate plan should make it clear how you would like medical decisions made in the event you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. At Leavitt Legal Group we offer comprehensive estate planning services that help you meet both of these goals and any other goals you may have.
ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS
Having documents that clearly express your desires and wishes are the backbone of any estate plan. In general, Leavitt Legal Group focuses on three types of instruments in building your estate plan: (1) Wills, (2) Trusts, and (2) Durable Powers of Attorney. Wills and Trusts are two different ways to pass assets to your heirs, while a Durable Power of Attorney is a document that explains how you would like healthcare decisions made for you if you are not able to provide informed consent. Understanding what these documents are intended to do, as well as the limitations of each document, is the first step in creating an estate plan to best meets your needs.
Last Will and Testament
When most people think of an estate plan they almost always think of a Last Will and Testament, or just a Will. An effective will does two things. First, it clearly spells out how you would like your assets passed to your heirs. By clearly expressing your desires, it ensures that your property is handled in the manner you desire. Second, a will must choose an executor. An executor is the person responsible for submitting your will to probate (more on probate below) and making sure your wishes are met. In essence, the executor is the one that makes sure the desires in your Will are carried out. Choosing an executor carefully, as well as secondary executors, is one of the most critical choices in creating an effective will.
Something that is critically important to keep in mind with a will is that the will must be submitted to probate. Probate is the legal process where a will is recognized by a court and an executor is appointed to distribute the assets passed under the will. In Nevada, there are summary probate proceedings available depending on the amount of property passed by the will, which can make this an ideal (and inexpensive) way to pass a small amount of assets to your heirs. If you think a will would be beneficial for you, call Leavitt Legal Group today for a free consultation.
A trust has the same primary function as a will—passing assets to your heirs—but there are a few minor differences. First, when a trust is formed, assets (like your house, retirement accounts, bank accounts, etc.) are transferred into the trust. Because of this, the trust becomes the legal owner of the property. Some trusts allow you to maintain control of the assets and even take the property out of the Trust, while others do not. Second, trusts offer additional protections that a will does not. For example, certain trusts allow the beneficiary of the trust to avoid the effects of taxation, divorce, or bankruptcy. Third, a trust does not have an executor, it has a Trustee. The Trustee is the person responsible for managing the property owned by the trust.
One of the primary benefits of a trust when compared to a will, is that a trust avoids probate. This means that after you pass away, your property immediately passes to your heirs. Additionally, there are specialty trusts Leavitt Legal Group can help you set up to accomplish specific goals.
A gun trust is a special kind of trust that allows for a firearm to be passed from one owner to the next. Certain types of firearms, which are subject to regulations under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968, are subject to special regulations. For example, these firearms can only be used or possessed by the registered owner and are taxed each time the firearm is transferred to a new owner. A properly established gun trust makes it possible for multiple people to be the legal owner of the firearm, thereby allowing them to legally use and possess the firearm, and it eliminates the transfer tax associated with the transfer of a firearm.
Domestic Asset Protection
A domestic asset protection trust is a special trust that allows you to protect your assets from creditors and is exceptionally useful for individuals with high-value assets or who work in high-risk professions, such as doctors, lawyers, real estate investors, or general contractors. If done properly, the assets placed in a Domestic Asset Protection Trust will be unavailable to any creditors two years after they have been placed in the trust. Given the two-year window where assets are still vulnerable, it is critical that a Domestic Asset Protection Trust be in place, and assets transferred into the trust, before a creditor may have a claim against you.
Durable Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney allows you to select an individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are ever unable to make those decisions for yourself. If you are ever rendered incapable of making healthcare decisions no one will be able to make those healthcare decisions for you, unless you have an effective power of attorney. In many cases family members, even spouses, will be prevented from making decisions on your behalf if you do not have a power of attorney in place. Contact Leavitt Legal Group today so we can help ensure the correct medical decisions will be made for you.
In a trust, the party or parties who receive the assets from the trust are called beneficiaries. If the Trustee of a trust is not following the directions provided in the trust agreement, a beneficiary can bring a lawsuit to make sure the trust agreement is followed. Unfortunately, there are also instances where the person establishing the trust is coerced or improperly influenced to transfer property out of the trust. In all of these instances, the beneficiaries of the trust may need to seek legal intervention to protect their interest and ensure the trust agreement is followed. If this happens to you, Leavitt Legal Group will stand in your corner to make sure your rights are protected and make sure trust agreement is followed.
The Probate process can be complex, and even daunting, for some. At Leavitt Legal Group we have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the probate process. Leavitt Legal Group can help ensure that the proper Executor is appointed by the court, and then work with the Executor to ensure the will is admitted to probate, claims by creditors are handled quickly and effectively, property is sold and properly accounted for, and assets are distributed to the designated heirs. Having an experienced advocate on your side significantly increases your chances that the probate process will be handled efficiently and effectively., so call Leavitt Legal Group today so we can help you.
Contact Leavitt Legal Group today to take advantage of your free initial consultation where we can help you evaluate how Leavitt Legal Group can best help you meet your goals: