PB Law Blog... Trusts and Stuff

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Estate Planning Questions Everyone Should Ask Themselves

Whether you are a Type-A personality or a spontaneous adventure seeker, there are some issues you should consider when thinking about your life and legacy.  Estate planning is not only for those who like to map out the rest of their lives down to the day (like me 😊), or for the ultra-rich; there are elements of planning that every adult should consider! This week’s post outlines some estate planning questions to ask yourself, whether you have an existing plan or are just beginning to think about the process.


  • Do I Have a Plan?
    • An estate plan is usually in the form of a Will and/or a Trust.In Nevada, a properly planned and well-funded trust will ensure that your estate will NOT go through probate after your passing (this reaps so many benefits for your assets and your families’ peace of mind!).Read about the probate process here. Even if you aren’t a big planner or do not wish to have an extensive estate plan, there are simplified ways to establish a solid estate plan.You can be as creative or simple with your plan as you wish!Your estate planning attorney will be able to help you achieve whatever your estate planning wishes may be as well as create a document that will serve you and your family for the remainder of your life and thereafter.


  • Is home ownership part of my plan?
    • If you own a home, or wish to someday be a homeowner, then this question is essential.Usually, a home is a person’s largest asset and where they spend most of their time.What you plan on doing with your home after you pass is something important to consider.If you already have a trust established (see question 1 above), you need to ensure that your home is actually owned by your trust.If you have kids, how would you want them to retain ownership?Sometimes, it is easiest to sell the home upon the owner’s death, and split the proceeds.However, this is not an option for many people as family homes hold a sentimental value or the market may not be ideal for selling the home.Therefore, thinking about how you would want your home bequeathed and to whom is vital.


  • What kind of documentation should I leave and where?
    • Again, and not to sound like a broken record, but – having a comprehensive trust-based estate plan takes care of this.Besides the trust document itself, it is important to have a DPOA (Durable Power of Attorney) and a HPOA (Healthcare Power of Attorney on hand).These documents will disclose who you would want to make decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated.The DPOA deals with the fiduciary responsibility and the HPOA deals with anything having to do with medical decisions.Additionally, you would want to have a HIPAA release, authorizing your decision makers to talk to hospitals/doctors about your care and condition.Each of these documents (among others!) should be included in your estate plan.If you’re unsure- ask us!


  • How do I take care of my kids?
    • The thought of leaving your children behind is horrifying, and not a question many people like to visit, especially if you have young kiddos!There are numerous issues to consider in making sure your kids are taken care of.First, if your kids are under 18 yrs, you must appoint a custodial guardian within your estate plan (usually in your Will)- this is the person/s who’d care for your children to take care of your children in the event that you pass before they reach the age of majority Children are usually listed in a Trust document as beneficiaries and/or Trustees.If you have minor children, there are Children’s Trusts, created for the purpose of holding their benefit until they are of age.Also, you may appoint a guardian within your Trust to take care of your children in the event that you pass before they reach the age of majority.There are many safety precautions for children you could (and should!) consider when establishing your Trust.Your estate planning attorney should be able to guide you through this process, and customize your estate plan to reflect these precautions.


  • Have I shopped for life insurance?
    • Life insurance is frequently an essential part of one’s estate.Making sure that your remaining bills are paid (including your mortgage) and that your family has enough to complete your burial wishes is ideal.If you have young children, life insurance is super important as income replacement.However, many people procrastinate when it comes to purchasing life insurance because it is cost that doesn’t produce a benefit until after you pass.Also, those who wait until they are older to purchase life insurance will end up paying much higher costs!You can shop life insurance quotes here.


  • What happens to my pets?
    • Pets are important members of many families, and they need love and care, just like people.This is a frequent question we get while assisting with estate plans.Deciding where your pet will go and who will take care of him/her after you are gone are questions that should arise in every pet owner’s mind.The good news is that you can provide for your pets in your estate plan!Establishing a Pet Trust is a great option to set aside funds and appoint caretakers if you pass before your pets.A simplified way to address this issue is to have your estate planning attorney customize your plan to reflect care for your pets!Read more about pet planning here!

As you consider these questions, remember that it is never too late to start planning for your estate!  Proper planning will help you attain whatever adventure you seek in life! 


-by Laura Bown (Law Clerk/J.D. Candidate, 2018, Boyd School of Law, UNLV) with Tiffany Ballenger Floyd, Esq. (Nevada & California Estate Planning Attorney), © 2018, Phillips Ballenger, PLLC 

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