Thursday, February 26, 2015

Estate Planning Essentials

You have likely spent many years accumulating wealth, establishing relationships and caring for your family.  Don’t let that all go to waste by neglecting to plan ahead. By carefully designing and establishing an integrated estate plan, your wealth, relationships and family will be protected.
 
Approximately 55% of American adults do not have a Will or other estate plan in place according to a 2013 survey conducted by LEXISNEXIS, a legal research provider.  Although thinking about and planning for potential incapacity and inevitable death may be uncomfortable, it is essential to assure that your wishes are carried out, your hard-earned money goes where you want it to, and your loved ones have direction and guidance as to your wishes.  These important documents warrant careful thought and planning as they will speak for you when you can no longer speak for yourself. 

If a person passes away without an estate plan, their loved ones and family are left in what could be a sticky situation.  They may not know where to find bank account information to pay that last phone bill, where the keys to a safety deposit box are located, or who was supposed to get the family silver.  While these questions are seemingly insignificant, they have the potential to develop into large family disputes when the person who has the answers to these questions is no longer there.  While under emotional stress of losing a loved one, a family is forced to guess the deceased person’s intent.  The situation is further complicated when the family has to go to court for probate of the estate where Nevada (or the state of the decedent’s death) may have a say in guessing the intent of the decedent.  This process of attempting to discern a deceased person’s intent may last for months and cause unnecessary disputes and tension between loved ones and family members.
 
If you are part of the 55% of American adults who have a Will or other documents in place to speak for you when you pass away, you are already way ahead of the curve.  However, oftentimes when people have executed solely a Will, they neglect to plan for what may happen in the event of incapacity.  Without a document like a living Will which states who you would like to act for you when you can no longer make decisions for yourself, family members may fight over who will take care of you and Nevada (or the state of your residence) may step in and choose someone who you would never want to be in that position of trust.  If you have a living Will, you can name a person (or persons) who will step into your shoes and assure that you are taken care of.  This person will enable you to maintain your standard of living, help provide for any dependents you have, and prevent your family from having to guess at what you would have wanted while under emotional stress and time constraints. 
 
These potential messes can generally be avoided with a comprehensive estate plan, wherein your wishes and intent are explicit.  Please contact our office for a FREE 30 minute Trust or Will consultation so you can plan and be prepared.
 
-Attorney Rebecca J. Haines

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