Reno, Nevada Family Lawyers & Divorce Attorneys - Surratt Law Blog
A “Transfer on Death” Deed, or more accurately a “Deed Upon Death” as it is referred to in NRS 111.671, is a way to transfer property to your designated beneficiary. Rather than relying on a traditional will or revocable living trust to pass your real property, a transfer-on-death deed can be created in advance, signed by the property owner, and, designates who the property will go to upon the owner’s death. The up-side is these are always modifiable before death while the owner of the property has capacity. The last recorded deed governs, and, if the property is sold to a third party, the transfer-on-death deed is void so it will not impact the sale. When the owner dies, the property is automatically transferred to the beneficiary through the deed documents. This can be better than putting adult beneficiaries on title or jointly titling property. There are often overlooked tax ramifications to adding future heirs to title now – so be wary of those “good ideas” you hear about from folks who “know”.
Certainly, the beneficiary will have to provide a death certificate, but the property should pass outside of the Probate process. In fact, avoiding probate is one of the primary reasons to utilize a transfer-on-death deed, which usually just costs money and time no one has to spare.
Not all states allow for a “Deed Upon Death” automatic transfer, but in 2011, Nevada law clarified this means of transferring real property. While normally a revocable living trust is the most effective means of avoiding probate for your estate, depending on the type of assets in your estate, and your goals, this is a low cost way to handle real property transfers to heirs.
I just read this Room for Debate from the New York Times about Prenuptial Agreements. There are various views about the value of Prenuptial Agreements represented in this debate.
One of the best things about a Prenuptial Agreement is that it forces spouses to be to discuss an often difficult subject – finances. That being said, it can also bring up lots of emotions in what could and theoretically should be a business discussion. In my view, Prenuptial Agreements are valuable in some circumstances, and worth discussing, but not every to be married/partnered couple needs one.
If you decide you need a Prenuptial Agreement, or want to be advised about one, we can help.
I just read this heartwarming story from the New York Times and it brought tears to my eyes. It was a great reminder of the important, emotional and touching work that Family Lawyers are lucky to be a part of.
So much of our time is spent fighting for clients. And although the fights are often necessary, they can be extremely difficult, dispiriting, and emotionally draining. Not just for our clients.
Adoption is the one thing we do which is positive and hopeful and builds families on a consistent basis.
This story reminded me of how good those cases feel and how important this work is.
Effective January 2013, there are new rules that apply for the financial disclosure form in complex divorces and front loaded discovery requirements for divorces in general. The new rules are available at the Nevada Supreme Court’s website.
Reading the new rules, we love the fact that you have to be diligent and prove your expenses and income. But, one cannot help but give pause to the difficulties that some clients will inevitably have in complying with all that is required up front. This includes:
- 6 months of statements of documents for bank accounts, credit cards, loans/mortgages, and retirement accounts for the period prior to the service of the summons and complaint;
- Real property documents, i.e. deeds, purchase agreements, etc.
- Promissory notes and any money held in escrow or deposit that may be payable;
- Any loan applications made in the prior 12 months;
- All monthly or periodic statements for insurance and policies;
- Evidence of any receivable;
- Business tax returns for the prior 2 (fiscal) years;
- 2 calendar years of income information available in W-2′s, 1099′s, K-1′s, and year-to-date, i.e. paycheck stubs, for the prior 6 months;
- Any document that would assist in valuing real or personal property;
- As list of all personal property worth more than $200.00.
While this list is a summary, it is more comprehensive than what you will need to prepare a tax return and could be extremely cumbersome for clients and their lawyers. Moreover, parties will have a duty to continue to supplement this initial up-front disclosure as the new information comes in (within 14 days of any change).
As a lawyer, the concern that arises here has to do with the work to produce this, and counsel not only reviewing the documents to see that they are responsive to the law, but also complete. This will be time consuming and will increase legal fees right out the box. In some cases, counsel can get clients to settle their case by telling them they will have to do this later, and if they want to avoid the hassle, settlement early is a way to do that. Indeed, for those cases that you think could be concluded quickly, preparing the personal property list alone could cause otherwise amicable couples to become entrenched in what items are worth, i.e. sparking a fight over what the tools and camping equipment is worth. The point – they end up fighting unnecessarily.
Despite these concerns, divorcing parties need to be aware and provide this information to their attorney or opposing party right away, since these disclosures are due at the same time as the General Financial Disclosure Form, which is 30 days after service of an answer. Indeed, a party that is thinking of filing may want to wait until they have gathered everything first, then file so everything is ready to disclose without issue.
The lawyers at SLP will be ready to respond – but will the clients?
The founder of PFLAG died at the age of 92. The following links are great resources for more information about this amazing woman:
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A compromise was reached and the President signed the “Fiscal Cliff” bill today, January 2, 2013, which had a provision for th eAdoption Tax Credit. The new law makes the Adoption Tax Credit a permanent part of the Internal REvenue Code. In the past, the Adoption Tax Credit was not permanent and it included a sunset provision that caused it to “expire” for lack of a better term. The Adoption Tax Credit allows families to claim a tax deduction for their adoption expenses. Adoption experts around the country had pushed for it to be a refundable tax credit but that fature did not survive negotiations and the bill was passed withoiut the refundanble language as a compromise. The tax credit is claimed to be a benefit of billions of dollars to families who will adopt in the future.
During the Surratt Law Practice radio show hosted by Kim Surratt with guest Melissa Exline, the attorneys recently talked about the Living Will Lockbox provided as a free service to Nevadans. You can easily access the information available on the “Living Will Lockbox” by visiting Nevada’s Secretary of State online. This service provides an accessible location for doctors to obtain documentation on your stated desires in the case of incapacity. The “living will” also known as an advance directive/declaration to physicians, explains what you want to do for life prolonging measures (feeding tubes/hydration).
In light of the recent tragedies that have forced people from their homes, threats of flood locally, and our not to distant memory of fires that swept through Northern Nevada, it is always a good idea to store your important papers in a safe place. The “lockbox” is a resource that is easy to use. Also, please make sure you get a fire rated and water resistant document holder and/or scan and store your most important documents in the “cloud” or in some sort of offsite but accessible location. Not only that, you need to have the right documents created in the first place! For those of you out there interested in talking about your estate plan, options, and the other documents besides a Will or Trust that are part of the estate plan which we talked about in depth in the radio program, please call our office, mention the “disaster planning”, and we will give you a free half-hour consultation. Don’t wait any longer – get your estate plan completed!
My estate planning clients often ask me about the estate tax, coming from the perspective that they want to avoid this if they can. In most cases, my “normal” income clients are nowhere near at risk of having their estate subject to any estate tax. What it does show me is that there is a lot of talk about the “death tax” but a lot less actual information being conveyed about what that tax really is, who is at risk of paying, etc.
I just read: Estate Planning in the Age of Obama: Where Is Tax Law Headed?, a blog article by Robert Denham, Esq. on CEB.com. Most of this information only applies to people whose overall estate is at risk of being at or above $1 million per person. I feel like this is a very low number for people. What makes you say that, you ask? Well, it could improperly impact people that have lived in a home for their entire lives, have a home worth something like $750,000, with a “modest” or “normal” amount of saved retirement or other assets that puts them over the $1 million mark, but, they are cash poor. The estate may be forced to sell a family home simply to cover the taxes. I feel like lawmakers will understand this, and don’t want to have any cases where the media grabs onto this and shows the horrible story about how the family home or farm was forced to be sold to cover a “death tax”.
Thus, I agree with this blog post that puts the estimate of the estate tax exemption at or near the $5 million mark. We will only know more when law makers actually start working on this, but, the bottom line is this – if your total estate is less than $1 million (per person), this tax law change is not likely to impact you. If you’re at or above $5 million, there is a chance it could impact your estate, but, the exemption is probably still going to be substantial enough to cover a full five million before a tax kicks in. Therefore, not only will the well off be okay (i.e. not taxed), but the very well off will also be okay, leaving an anticipated future tax hike to impacting only the extremely well off and dipping into the pockets of the super duper filthy rich. Hold on for the ride and let’s see what happens!
Kim Surratt is participating in the National LGBT Bar Association Conference in Washington DC this week. She is at the Family Law Institute right now. She will be speaking at both the Family Law Institute and at Lavendar Law on assisted reproductive technology matters.
The Road to Giving Same-Sex Couples the Same Long Term Care Impoverishment Protections as Different-Sex CouplesJuly 30th, 2012
It’s a sad fact that since the mid-1990’s, thirty-eight states have amended their statutes, constitutions, or both to deny legal recognition to the marriages of same-sex couples. This unfortunately denies these couples many privileges that different-sex couples enjoy including benefits associated with long term care. This week we will look at the issue of providing long term health care impoverishment protection for same-sex couples within a system that does not aim to directly benefit the needs of these couples. A wonderful article written by Jennifer C. Pizer, Craig J. Konnoth, Christy Mallory, and Brad Sears was published recently by the Williams Institute and does an excellent job of addressing this issue at hand for our clients who may not have been fully aware of this type of issue that can arise in circumstances where one same-sex partner/spouse becomes ill and needs care for an extended period (longer than 30 days) of time.
It is no secret that even temporary health care comes with an astronomical price. This economical wound is flared open even more if the care required takes longer than 30 days. The problem is that, “same sex spouses do not receive the same benefits and protections under federal law as different-sex spouses because of the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ (‘DOMA’).” In this article, the Williams Institute discusses a letter that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published in the summer of 2011. This letter sought to inform states that federal law allows same-sex partners of recipients to be included in such long term care (LTC) impoverishment protection. In this letter, states can, if they choose, extend three impoverishment protections to same-sex couples:
- Protection from lien imposition,
- Protection from estate and lien recovery, and
- Protection from penalties imposed as a result of a transfer of property for less than fair market value.
But how would states go about allowing this on the state level? This article takes on that question by outlining two thorough and clear plans that states could choose from, if they wanted to, that would fit their existing constitutions and statutes that are already in place. The Williams Institute article is good about flushing out these two plans in their entirety.
The article is extremely informative in providing facts, figures, and statistics about the long term health needs of same-sex couples. For anyone interested in the impoverishment protections that you could benefit from, we strongly encourage you to check out this article.
Link to article: < http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Medicaid-Overview.pdf >