Estate Planning in Nevada: Is Your Will Enough?

Having a will as the only estate planning tool may not be enough because wills do not address certain issues, such as planning for a health crisis in a person’s lifetime or saving a person’s family from probate. Most people require more planning than what a will provides in Reno. A comprehensive estate plan addresses lifetime issues and ensures a person’s desires are abided by, and the estate is protected without the hassle and expense of probate litigation.

Nevada Wills

A will directs what happens with a person’s estate after the person dies. Creating a will involves, among other things, directing the distribution of assets, choosing beneficiaries and a personal representative or executor of the estate after a person passes away, and designating guardians for minor children, if applicable.

After a person dies, the will is subjected to the probate process for the provisions to be executed. During the process, a person’s will is authenticated, and the assets are listed and distributed to the named beneficiaries. The probate process can be lengthy, public, and cost the estate a considerable amount of money that would otherwise stay in the family.

What Makes up a Comprehensive Estate Plan?

A comprehensive plan in Nevada usually includes several estate planning documents, such as:

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

This document allows a person to give a family member or trusted friend the power to make financial decisions on his or her behalf when he or she is not cogent, but is still alive.

Health Care Documents

These documents help people express and enforce their health care wishes, even when they are alive, but cannot speak for themselves. They include:

  • Living will
  • HIPAA Release
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Pour-Over Will

The document nominates guardians for a person’s children. It is crucial for people with minor children.

Revocable Living Trust

A will on its own does not help bypass probate. A revocable living trust helps a person’s estate avoid the probate process. It is a legal entity created while one is alive to hold their estate assets. The person still controls the assets unless they pass away or become incapacitated.

A revocable living trust also spells out who inherits the estate and how they receive the inheritance. If properly created and funded, a revocable living trust helps a person’s heirs avoid probate, streamlines the administration of the estate, and preserves its value. An estate planning attorney in your area can include a trust into your estate plan, to protect your assets from unnecessary costs.

Updating the Estate Plan

After forming a revocable living trust, a person’s financial and familial circumstances are likely to change as they age.  A revocable living trust and estate plan can be changed as the circumstances change in a person’s life.  Thus, the estate plan can grow or change as life does.

A person requires multiple legal documents to accommodate all of their estate planning needs. Prioritizing an effective estate plan with the help of a licensed professional will save time, money, provide for your heirs and  save the family from the unnecessary frustration of the probate process.

Kimberly Surratt served for eight years on the executive council and has been the vice chair and then chair of the State Bar of Nevada Family Law Section. In addition, she is the President-Elect of the Nevada Justice Association and the chair of the domestic lobbying committee. She has lobbied with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004.

Related Articles


What Is a Pour-Over Will?

A pour-over will is a special will that provides that some or all of a person’s assets be transferred to their trust rather than specific beneficiaries or heirs through the probate process. Any assets unaccounted for “pour over” into the person’s trust, helping the estate avoid costly probate. Here is a closer look at what this legal document entails.

Estate Planning in Nevada

Do You Need a Durable Power of Attorney in Nevada?

A durable power of attorney ensures a person’s affairs are taken care of by someone they trust if they become mentally incapacitated and avoid a costly guardianship proceeding. A durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows a person to authorize another to manage their financial affairs. The person who grants the authority is known as the principal, while the one who has been granted the authority to act on behalf of the principal is known as the agent.