When we consult with clients, we often hear many of the same questions. With this in mind, we present a hypothetical question-and-answer session with a Reno estate planning lawyer in this post.
Doesn’t the state take care of everything when you die without an estate plan?
To die without an estate plan is called dying intestate. Under the rules of intestacy, the probate court would supervise the administration of the estate. Creditors would be given an opportunity to come forward seeking satisfaction, an estate is inventories and valued, disputes are resolved, and ultimately the assets would be distributed under intestate succession laws.
That’s the good news, but the bad news is that it is very possible that your assets would not be distributed in accordance with your wishes. For example, if you are happily married, you have no children, and your parents are still living, you would probably want your spouse to inherit everything. In Nevada, under intestate succession rules, your spouse would inherit half of your separate property, and your parents would inherit the rest. Intestacy law does not appropriately deal with most issues that arise with separate property. Further, intestacy law does not account for many modern day families, such as blended families with step-children, non-traditionally married couples, and a myriad others.
There is no reason to surrender control of your estate to the judicial process when it is so easy to engage the services of a licensed Reno estate planning lawyer.
Trusts are only for wealthy people, right?
It is true that there are some types of trusts that are used by high net worth individuals that are exposed to the federal estate tax. However, there are other types of trust that can be quite useful for people of relatively ordinary means.
Far and above the most common is the revocable living trust. If you use a last will, it would be admitted to probate after you die. The court would provide supervision, and the executor would handle the estate administration tasks. But this process will take eight or nine months to a year to run its course, and inheritors receive nothing during this interim. There are also innumerable expenses that pile up during probate, often at a cost between 4% up to 8% of the estate value.
If you use a living trust instead, the trustee that you name in the trust agreement would be empowered to distribute assets to the beneficiaries outside of probate. This is one advantage, but there are a number of others, including the option to protect an inheritance through a trust against lawsuits, creditors, divorcing spouses, or other predators.
A living trust is beneficial whenever a client has a goal to avoid probate and make the process easy for their loved ones. It’s not only for wealthy people, but for people who want to better take care of their life planning.
Are inheritances subject to taxation?
Since the Internal Revenue Service requires you to report all sources of income, you may assume that inheritances that you leave to your loved ones would be taxed. In actuality, inheritances are not subject to taxation, with the exception of inheriting retirement accounts (such as traditional IRA or 401(k) accounts).
There is, however, a federal estate tax that might apply to your estate before everything is distributed to the beneficiaries as an inheritance. But, the vast majority of people do not have to be concerned about the estate tax because there is a VERY large exclusion. Only the portion of your estate that exceeds the amount of this exclusion would be taxed. At the time of this writing in 2019, the exclusion stands at $11.4 million.
Attend a Free Webinar!
These are a few short questions that we frequently hear from our clients, and you can ask your own if you attend one of our upcoming Webinars. The information sessions that we hold provide a treasure trove of useful information, so we strongly encourage you to attend the Webinar that fits into your schedule. To get all the details, visit our Webinar page and follow the simple instructions to register for the date that works for you. Starting in 2019, we are offering Webinars semi-monthly in the evening to accommodate those people that cannot attend during the middle of the day.