It is not hard to tell when it is election time in Clark County. Everywhere you look there signs asking for your vote. While the candidates are highly publicized in advance of the election, the ballot measures often do not get as much attention. One of the ballot measures this fall asks voters to approve the addition of a Court of Appeals in the State of Nevada. Nevada is one of only a handful of States that do not have a Court of Appeals. Among the States without a Court of Appeals, Nevada has the largest population and highest caseload per justice.
As it stands right now, all appeals from the District Court go directly to the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada. Given the high rate of population growth and the increased caseloads, the limited resources of the Supreme Court are being taxed in order to sustain a timely resolution of all of the cases in the pipeline. An overburdened appellate court creates a backlog of cases on appeal waiting to be heard. In turn, individual litigant’s access to justice can be delayed for several months or even more than a year.
Under Nevada’s model, the addition of an appellate court would enable the Supreme Court to refer cases to the Court of Appeals in appropriate cases. These would typically be housekeeping cases or those that do not concern an important policy of the State of Nevada. More cases could be processed and justice will be served in a more timely manner.
Like any other civil case, a will contest, a trust contest or other litigation involving trusts and estates can be appealed from the District Court. The addition of a Court of Appeals would allow these types of cases to be more swiftly determined on appeal. This is especially important in the context of wills and trusts, since the overall objective of the probate code and trust code is to resolve such matters on a more expedited basis than an average civil case. That objective is thwarted when these cases get tied up in the appeal process since it prevents the estate and/or trust from being finally settled and distributed to the rightful parties. Having a Court of Appeals would further the overall goal of allowing the trust or estate to be ultimately administered and distributed without unnecessary delay.
Family members need to know how to get access to bank and online accounts, and even your home after you die.
As we near the end of the third quarter of 2014 I ask myself, where has the year gone? It seems it was just yesterday that I was indolently celebrating the New Year. Now, I have come to realize that we are coming into the last few months of 2014, and with that, the holiday season is impending. Fearing that I may be perceived as one of those people who begins their Christmas countdown months too early, I am reluctant to say that Christmas is in fact around the corner, and the time to begin shopping for gifts is uncomfortably near. In the spirit of this gift-giving discussion, I wish to remind those of you who are benevolently inclined or who are looking to transfer assets free of gift tax that in addition to budgeting for the latest and greatest toys and gadgets for your young children and grandchildren (toys and gadgets that we only dreamed of as kids), you must also budget for your annual exclusion gifts.
Internal Revenue Code section 2503(b) provides in relevant part:
In 2014, the $10,000 figure above, which is indexed for inflation, increased to $14,000. Thus, in 2014 taxpayers can gift up to $14,000 per donee, and married couples can gift twice this amount, or $28,000. This can be a useful tool to transfer value out of ones estate free of gift taxes. And, if a taxpayer has many donees to which he or she is prone to make gifts, the annual exclusion can be especially effective. So again, for those of you who are altruistically disposed, before you get caught up in the holiday cheer and before the year-end comes and goes, be sure to budget you annual exclusion gifts.
-Attorney Michael D. Lum