In my last blog post, I discussed the two best reasons for avoiding probate court, (1) time and (2) cost. I often get asked by clients whether having a will is sufficient to avoid probate in Nevada. The question is usually asked by children of a deceased parent who are facing the time consuming and expensive probate process because proper estate planning did not take place during the parent’s lifetime. My answer, in short, is that in Nevada having a will is not enough to keep a person out of probate court at their death.
A will is a legal instrument that determines how assets are to be divided at a person’s death. Wills are an effective way to accomplish this goal. However, if a person only uses a will, a probate will be required for the distribution of those assets that do not automatically transfer to another person, such as with real property. With only a will, children and other beneficiaries can be stuck with a time consuming and expensive probate case.
There are several effective estate planning techniques which can be implemented to completely avoid probate. For example, a person can create a revocable trust. This estate planning tool allows a person to not only to avoid probate and designate beneficiaries of their choice; it also helps protect a person in the case of incapacity prior to their death and can accomplish some estate tax planning. One can also make an effort to avoid probate by making arrangements for the automatic transfer of assets, such as by naming designated beneficiaries on bank and other investment accounts.
Each method of avoid avoiding probate has advantages and disadvantages. It is important to speak with an estate planning attorney before making any decisions to make certain your planning is done correctly and your goals are successfully met. If you have any questions about avoiding probate and setting up your estate plan, feel free to contact one of our attorneys for a free ½ hour consultation.