This is the next post in our series on estate planning for Las Vegas, Nevada residents. My last article discussed the benefits of having a living trust as part of your estate plan. We also stressed the importance of retaining an attorney to assist you in understanding the complexities of this area of the law. Every individual has unique family circumstances and concerns and it is important that your estate plan is tailored to your specific needs. Hiring legal counsel will help ensure your documents are enforceable and address your individual goals. In this article we discuss how to avoid probate for bank accounts, investments and other assets. If you are in need of assistance contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
Bank accounts and investment accounts will avoid probate if you designate a beneficiary
Most financial institutions allow cash accounts, including checking, savings and money market accounts, to pass to a designated payable on death beneficiary. To designate the beneficiary, you will need to complete a payable on death (POD) form and provide the beneficiary’s legal name and contact information. For brokerage accounts, it is common for this form to be referred to as a transfer on death (TOD) form. In the event of your death, as long as the beneficiary survives you, the account will transfer to the beneficiary named outside of probate. The beneficiary will be required to present your death certificate and their identification to transfer the funds. Each institution has its own policies and procedures, so it is important to understand your bank’s specific requirements. It is crucial that the payable or transfer on death form is consistent with your wishes. For example, if you have two children and identify only one child on a POD form, that child will be the only one to inherit those funds. This is true even if you identify both children to receive equally under your will. Also, it is imperative you change beneficiary forms in the event of a significant life change such as a new child, divorce or death.
Transferring real property, cars and other assets requires a title change
When determining whether your real property or vehicles can avoid probate at your death, it is important to review your deed or vehicle title. Real estate may be held as joint tenancy with a right of survivorship. Joint tenancy allows you to own the property as an equal, undivided interest with another person. At the death of one owner, the property vests in the surviving owner without the need for probate. For example, if two siblings own property as joint tenants with right of survivorship, the surviving sibling will inherit the property even though their will provides otherwise. Nevada is a community property state, and it is important to consult an attorney to understand the implications of this when changing titles. To ensure a surviving spouse receives a step-up in basis of the entire asset at the first spouse’s death, the asset must remain community property. If you own your real estate or vehicle as tenants in common, each person’s share must be probated upon their death. How your home or vehicle will be distributed at your death depends on the specific language used in your deed or vehicle title. Nevada also recognizes transfer on death forms for real property deeds and motor vehicle titles. This allows for a beneficiary to inherit outside of probate only upon the death of the owner. To accomplish avoidance of probate, it is important to ensure the transfer on death form complies with the Nevada statute and is filed properly.
One of the first steps in avoiding probate and planning for your final affairs is to conduct an audit of your financial accounts. This will help to determine if you have named beneficiaries and how the assets would be distributed if you pass away. If you have titled your property incorrectly, or wish to include transfer on death beneficiaries, an attorney can assist you with this process. It is helpful to understand the legal and practical implications any time you change the title to an asset. Hiring an experienced Las Vegas estate planning lawyer will ensure you know all considerations in the process and are able to have peace of mind once your plan is completed. If you are in need of assistance, then contact our office online or by telephone to schedule an initial consultation.