Size Matters (Sometimes)

One of the most common questions we receive is whether someone has a large enough estate to warrant purchasing a revocable living trust. A will is a written document that becomes effective upon your death. You can revoke or change your will during your lifetime. In your will you can name the beneficiaries that will inherit your assets. However, assets don’t simply get distributed automatically at death but must be administered through the probate process.

A trust is a document that also outlines how you wish to distribute your assets upon death. Similar to the will, you can revise the trust as you desire. However, unlike a will, your real property and investments can be placed inside the trust and the trust does not require the distribution of the assets to be subject to the probate process.

There are several reasons to avoid probate:

Privacy. Probate is a public proceeding and all documents filed with the court can be viewed online, including the value of each asset in your estate as well as the names and addresses of the beneficiaries. If you have any interest in keeping your finances, property or family members secret upon your death, you want to avoid probate.

Fees. Attorney’s fees are generally paid from the estate based on a percentage of the value of the estate. In Nevada, a $300,000 estate would be subject to attorney’s fees in the amount of $7,000 calculated at 4% for the first $100,000 and 3% of the next $100,000. The cost of a revocable living trust estate plan will generally be substantially less than this fee.

Time. The probate process can tie up assets for some time (usually no less than 4 to 6 months in Nevada) while all of the outstanding issues are settled. Some people prefer to have their assets distributed more quickly and without the involvement of the court.

In Nevada, when the size of the Estate is less than $100,000, probate may be avoided and the estate can be set aside for the payment of attorney’s fees, funeral expenses, Medicaid reimbursements and other creditors. Thereafter, the balance can be distributed to the beneficiaries under the will or heirs if the decedent died intestate. If you determine the size of your Estate exceeds this amount, you should consider meeting with an experienced, estate planning attorney to discuss a revocable living trust.

For more than 30 years, Attorney Lee A. Drizin has practiced in the areas of estate planning, probate, trusts, guardianship and real estate matters representing clients throughout the state of Nevada.

Drizin Law is providing this information for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. This information is based on general principles of Nevada law at the time it was created and you should be aware laws frequently change. Moreover, the laws affecting you may differ depending on the circumstances. You should consult with a qualified attorney in your own state or jurisdiction concerning your particular situation. Review of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.