What is Estate Planning?

By January 24, 2017Estate Planning
Man looking over his estate plan

What is Estate Planning?

Simply put, estate planning involves planning ahead for your death and leaving instructions for who is to receive your property after you pass away, what they will receive, as well as when they will receive it (which is especially important if you have young children and don’t want them to inherit money until they’re older and more responsible). But good estate planning doesn’t stop there. An estate plan should cover more than just the who, what, and when of distributing your property. It should also plan for many other obstacles your family will face as a result of your death or incapacity by doing things like:

  • Providing instructions for your health care in the event you cannot make decisions on your own (life support, organ donation, etc.),
  • Naming a guardian for your children and someone to manage or look after their inheritance,
  • Providing instructions for how your children should be raised (religion, education, etc.),
  • Making provisions for the payment of your debts,
  • Protecting the assets in your estate from creditors,
  • Minimizing estate taxes,
  • Minimizing court and attorneys fees that may arise from administering your estate,
  • Providing for funeral arrangements,
  • Authorizing someone to manage your finances if you are unable to do so yourself,

So, estate planning involves more than drafting a simple Will. Most estate plans will also include a revocable living trust, special clauses in the Will, and various power of attorney designations that come into effect in the event you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions on your own.

What If I Die Without An Estate Plan?

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what happens if you die without a will or estate plan. The truth is that your property will be distributed by a judge according to the probate laws in Nevada. The judge will decide what property is given to your spouse, your children, your siblings, and your parents — regardless of your wishes.

This can result in some unpleasant outcomes, such as leaving your spouse without enough money to pay living expenses or giving a full inheritance to your children even though they are not yet financially responsible enough to handle it. Money you saved for their college education could be spent on a new car or other frivolous items.

Or worse, in the even that both you and your spouse die in the same accident, the court will appoint a guardian to take custody of your children without any insight into who you think is best for the job. That guardian may not share your views on important things like religion and education and will be free to raise your children to their liking. During this time, the guardian will also control your children’s inheritance and will decide how it’s spent until your children reach the age of 18, when the court will turn the inheritance over to them in full.

Wouldn’t you prefer to have a say in how your property is distributed and your children are raised? Making sure your spouse is provided for and your children get the type of up-bringing you want for them is too important to leave to the discretion of a judge.

Cost Of Estate Planning In Nevada

Most people recognize that they need an estate plan, but wait until it’s too late. A common reason for the delay is the fear that hiring an estate planning attorney is just too costly. However, estate planning does not have to be expensive. For as little as a few hundred dollars, you can protect your family with a simple estate plan and can always add additional features in the future as they become necessary. In any case, the worst choice is to do nothing. The cost to your family of dealing with your death when there’s no estate plan in place will far exceed the legal fees of having one drafted today.