Signing documentThis is the seventh post in my series on estate planning for Las Vegas, Nevada residents. Our last article discussed how you can avoid probate by retitling assets to pass to beneficiaries at death. It is important to understand that this area of the law is complex and requires specific knowledge of Nevada’s legal system. Throughout the prior articles in this series, I stressed the importance of having an attorney explain the many options and tools available. In this post, we will cover why Las Vegas residents should retain an estate planning attorney to complete their legal documents.

Retaining a lawyer helps Las Vegas residents to understand all options regarding their estate

Estate planning involves preparation of legal documents that will take effect in the future. There are many contingencies and hypotheticals that must be considered to ensure your plan is thorough. Each person has unique needs including their specific beneficiaries, the types of assets they own, whether the assets are community property assets, and more. Part of preparing an estate plan is to take an audit of your financial assets and ensure they are titled correctly and all beneficiary forms are consistent with your wishes. A lawyer will help you to identify your primary goals for your planning and ensure that the requisite provisions are included in your documents. For example, if you wish to avoid probate, it may be that a living trust is best for you. Or, if you have a special needs beneficiary, it is important to consider how your inheritance could disqualify them from necessary government benefits.

The first step when you meet with a lawyer is to discuss who your intended beneficiaries are and your specific financial assets. Your lawyer will look at bank statements, titles to deeds, and may speak with your financial advisor to learn detailed information about your assets. The next step is to meet with your attorney to discuss your unique goals for your family or beneficiaries. The attorney can discuss with you all considerations before making decisions on finalizing your plan. An experienced attorney will guide you through their recommendation for the type of plan you need to accomplish your goals. Lastly, the attorney will prepare your documents and review them with you. It is important that you understand the documents and identify any changes you wish to make. There are often steps to take after you have executed your documents. These can include recording of documents, retitling of assets, or funding a trust.

Utilizing “self-help” forms can lead to unforeseen consequences during a Nevada probate

Unfortunately, do-it-yourself wills have recently gained popularity. These forms are commonly generic and do not provide for an attorney review of your specific circumstances. Additionally, it is possible these forms are not state-specific and do not contain the requisite language to be binding under Nevada law. Self-help forms can lead to unforeseen circumstances that will become a costly burden to your loved ones at your death. Without a Nevada licensed attorney, it is possible your documents may not even be enforceable when you need them. For example, if your power of attorney is not legally valid in Nevada, your loved ones may have to proceed with a guardianship. This can lead to attorneys fees and court costs. A Nevada lawyer will be up to date on all Nevada probate laws and will be able to guarantee the enforceability of your estate planning documents.

We have stressed the importance of retaining an attorney, especially for estate planning documents. Errors in these documents can lead to costly litigation or family feuds that cause emotional distress and pain for your loved ones. By working with an experienced Las Vegas estate planning lawyer, you can create thorough and effective documents that should simplify the legal process. Our firm is ready to assist you with all of your probate and estate planning needs. If you or someone you love needs assistance, contact us online or by phone today to schedule a meeting.