Las Vegas Office: 702.254.4455
Henderson Office: 702.433.4455
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The main component of the estate plan for most people is a revocable living trust that they establish during their lifetime. A properly drawn and funded revocable living trust will enable the surviving spouse and family members to avoid probate, the formal court supervision of an estate proceeding.  The most common reason given for wanting to avoid probate is the cost of a probate proceeding.  Since the court supervises the probate process from start to finish, significant administrative costs and fees are incurred.  These would include fees of the personal representative, fees of the attorney, filing fees and court costs.  However, what, if any, other reasons are there for wanting to avoid probate?

Another major reason to avoid the probate process is confidentiality.  An estate file is a matter of public record.  A review of someone’s estate file will reveal the terms of the Last Will And Testament of the decedent including:

Although one can seek an Order sealing an estate file, obtaining such an Order is difficult and is somewhat unusual in estates in recent years.

Contrast the non-confidentiality of a probate proceeding with the confidentiality of a trust administration.  A court does not supervise a trust administration.  Accordingly, there are no filings with the clerk that become a matter of public record.  Under Nevada law, the Will of a decedent is required to be lodged with the Clerk and becomes a matter of public record; however, the dispositive provisions of a Will in a revocable living trust situation merely provide that any estate asset is “poured over” into the trust. The trust agreement itself is not made a matter of public record.  For a court in Nevada to become involved with a trust administration, the court has to formally agree to assume jurisdiction of a trust via court order.  Courts in Nevada have more than enough to do, and do not want to assume jurisdiction of a trust unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.  Examples of this would be for the court to construe the terms of a trust agreement that are ambiguous and open to more than one interpretation, misconduct by a trustee, and a challenge to the validity of the terms of the trust agreement.

In summary, a primary reason for utilizing a revocable living trust in order to avoid the probate process is to maintain the confidentiality of one’s estate plan.

-Attorney John R. Mugan


As your life circumstances change through marriage, children, grandchildren, moving, divorce or other events, your estate plan should be reviewed and updated to reflect your current situation and wishes.

Many clients realize when their situation or circumstances change that the central part of their estate plan (typically a trust or a will) needs to be updated, but forget about the other documents they prepared as part of their comprehensive plan. Other such documents may include a Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and/or Directive to Physicians, often referred to as a “Living Will”.  Oftentimes the same person is nominated to serve as, for example, the Successor Trustee and the Attorney in Fact under a Financial Power of Attorney.  If a client changes their successor trustee because that person is no longer a good choice but forgets to also update their Power of Attorney designation, their intentions and wishes may be thwarted as the person they intended to completely remove from their plan is actually still an integral part of it.  In addition to modifying the person or people nominated in a Financial or Health Care Power of Attorney, your wishes regarding end of life decisions might also change. Thus, one’s Directive to Physicians should also be revisited every few years to assure that those are still your wishes.  These documents should also be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the law governing Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives.

Below is a brief description of several of the ancillary documents that should be a part of your estate plan which ought to be periodically reviewed on a regular basis along with your will or trust to ensure your estate plan is current and reflects your intent.

  1. Financial Power of Attorney - A Financial Power of Attorney allows you to designate an agent to act on your behalf regarding your financial affairs in the event of incapacity or unavailability.  If you become incapacitated, this document gives another person full legal authority to sign on your behalf and manage your assets and financial affairs.
  2. Health Care Power of Attorney – A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself, as well as when you are terminally ill.  This power only becomes effective upon your incapacity.  It contains a statement of your desires and generally speaking gives broad powers of health care decisions to whomever you have named as agent in your Health Care Power of Attorney.
  3. Directive to Physicians (Living Will)- This document lets family members know what type of care you do or do not want to receive should you become unable to make rational decisions due to incapacity.  The Directive to Physicians states that if you have an incurable or irreversible condition that, without the administration of life-sustaining treatments, will cause death within a relatively short time in the opinion of your treating physician, your attending physician is authorized to withhold or withdraw treatment that only prolongs the process of dying and is not necessary for your comfort or to alleviate pain.

In summary, please don’t forget to review these important documents on occasions when you feel that changes in life have impacted your estate plan.

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