The Importance of an Estate Plan

Many people question the necessity of an estate plan and often conclude that the size of their estate does not warrant any future planning. However, estate planning is no longer only considered a vehicle for the wealthy and is used by persons of all income brackets to ensure their possessions go where they want upon their death. Without an estate plan, all of your property passes by operation of law, and you will have no say in where or to whom your possessions go. Fortunately, there are several choices in Nevada available for you to direct where your possessions go upon your passing, the most popular being a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) or Trust.

Upon executing a Will, you can nominate a Personal Representative and specifically detail who will receive your belongings upon your death. While this may accomplish your goal in ensuring that your property goes where you desire, your Personal Representative will still have to go through probate, a costly and time consuming Court process. In Nevada, there are four different levels of probate ranging from estates with a total value of less than $25,000 to estates exceeding $300,000. At each level, additional Court involvement is required, necessarily entailing higher costs and expense to your estate. Further, Nevada law entitles attorneys to compensation based on a percentage of the size of the probate estate. For example, Nevada law provides attorneys statutory compensation in the approximate amount of $9,000 for administering and probating a $300,000 estate. Alternatively, attorneys may charge the estate on an hourly basis for the time spent in the probate process. At Allison MacKenzie, Ltd., we charge the estate the lesser of the two amounts, allowing more of your estate to pass to your beneficiaries as desired.

Alternatively, the most popular form of future planning available to you is a Trust. While a Trust accomplishes the same goal as a Will, property in a Trust does not have to go through probate or be administered by a Court. Further, with recent changes in federal law, the vast majority of estates are no longer subject to additional taxes. This has allowed the attorneys at Allison MacKenzie, Ltd., to prepare Trusts and estate plans that easily accomplish your goals without convoluted legal jargon. In addition to the Trust itself, these estate plans include documents such as durable powers of attorney and living wills which set forth your personal desire regarding care during your life, in addition to the Trust which directs distribution of your property upon your death. At Allison MacKenzie, Ltd., all of these documents can be prepared for less than one-third of the expense your estate would be responsible for if it had to be probated under a Will.

Kyle Winter is a Nevada native and attorney at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm in Carson City. His areas of practice include Family Law, Estate Planning, Guardianships, and Probate Law.