Henderson Office: 702.433.4455
Las Vegas Office: 702.254.4455
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It is often asked by clients, how often should I review my estate planning documents?  Although we do the best we can to create a flexible estate plan, there are a couple of situations that should motivate clients to dust off their estate planning documents for a review – changes in life and changes in the law.

There are a number of potential life changes that will affect a person’s estate plan including but not limited to: change in marital status, birth of children or grandchildren, change in child’s marital status, incapacity or death of beneficiary, change in personal economic circumstances, or moving to another state.  Such changes most likely will have a direct impact on a person’s estate plan which could necessitate an update to the person’s estate planning documents.

It is impossible to predict changes to the laws that affect a person’s estate plan.  For example, earlier this year Congress made significant changes to the federal estate tax laws.  As a result of these changes, many older estate plans may result in higher income taxes and be more complicated than necessary.  At Jeffrey Burr, we strive to keep our clients reasonably informed of these types of changes through newsletters, blog posts, etc.  However, for most clients, a short half hour consultation may provide the ultimate peace of mind as to whether or not changes are necessary.

If you have not recently reviewed your estate planning documents and are unsure as to whether or not updates are necessary, please give the law firm of Jeffrey Burr a call to schedule a consultation with an attorney.

Attorney Collins Hunsaker

According to the most recent estimates from the U. S Census Bureau, Nevada ranked fifteenth (15th) in state population growth.  Many residents of Nevada are transplants, having lived and worked in other states before relocating to Nevada.  Most states are “separate property states”; however, Nevada is a “community property state”, one of only nine (9) such states.  Generally speaking, in a community property state such as Nevada, each spouse owns an undivided one-half interest in all property acquired during the course of a marriage regardless of how the property is titled.  (Exceptions to this rule are property acquired during marriage by gift or inheritance and an award of personal injury damages, which are the separate property of the recipient only.) Contrast community property law with separate property state law under which ownership is determined by how the asset is titled.  For example, assume two hundred (200) shares of Apple stock are purchased during the course of a marriage and are titled in the individual name of the husband.  In a separate property state, ownership of all of the stock is vested in the husband, while in a community property state such as Nevada the husband has a one-half ownership interest in the stock and the wife has a one-half ownership interest in the stock.

However, what happens if property is acquired during the course of a marriage while the couple are residents of a separate property state, they then move to a community property state such as Nevada, and are residents of Nevada when the first spouse dies?  This is a very common occurrence in Nevada.  At the time of death of the first spouse, is the property the separate property of the spouse in which the property is titled per separate property state law or is the property owned one-half by each spouse per community property law?  In Nevada, ownership of an asset acquired during the course of a marriage is determined under the laws of the state in which the couple was domiciled when the asset was acquired, and the ownership is not altered if the couple moves to another state.  Accordingly, since the asset was acquired when the couple were residents of a separate property state, the asset is the separate property of the spouse in which the property is titled per separate property state law.

Understanding community property law, separate property law, and how and when they are applied is essential in the proper determination of what assets the deceased spouse owned for death tax, allocation of assets and administration purposes.

Attorney John Mugan

Often times, the public is under the misconception that if a person dies without a will, their assets will go to the state of Nevada.  However, this is only a rumor.  In reality, if a person dies without a will, the state of Nevada has a set of default rules (intestacy laws) under NRS Chapter 134 that directs who receives an inheritance in the absence of a will.  The beneficiaries are different depending on whether the person is married or single or has separate property or community property.

In general, the deceased person’s interest in all community property passes to the surviving spouse, if any.  Separate property is more complicated.  Details regarding the default distribution of separate property assets can be found in NRS Chapter 134.  The basic default rules for a surviving spouse or children are as follows:

Unfortunately, many times the default rules do not distribute the assets as the decedent intended (or as the surviving family members expected).  A surviving spouse may end up sharing the estate with the children or the assets may be distributed to unintended beneficiaries.  In addition, accounts with designated beneficiaries may trump the default (intestacy) rules.  In my experience, clients are generally unhappy with the default rules and as such, a person should always have at least a basic estate plan to make sure their assets go to the beneficiaries of their choice.

Should you have any questions about avoiding or interpreting the Nevada default rules, please contact our office at (702) 433-4455 or email us via our Contact Us portion of our website.

Attorney – Corey J. Schmutz

Henderson Office
2600 Paseo Verde Parkway, Suite 200
Henderson, NV 89074
Phone: 702.433.4455
Fax: 702.451.1853
Las Vegas Office
10000 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 100
Las Vegas, NV 89135
Phone: 702.254.4455
Fax: 702.254.3330
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