You have estate documents: a will and/or trust, and powers of attorney. Great! But do you have a plan? Have you looked at your documents, and your assets, to make sure that everything works together? In Nevada, how property passes at death is controlled by how it is titled, or by whether it has a pay-on-death designation. Your estate documents will only apply to things either titled or passing through your Trust, or to those things that simply will not transfer on their own and would have to go through probate.
Setting up your estate documents is a huge first step. However, if you do not examine how your property is held then those documents may simply never be used. Your emotionally, and sometimes costly, effort will go to waste.
This is why I tell my clients that “funding” your plan is the most important step in creating and carrying out an estate plan. Funding is simply the process of making sure your property is titled, or will pay on death, in a way that is consistent with your last will and testament and your trust. Let me be clear: everyone needs to do funding. Whether you have a will, or a trust, you need to check how your assets are titled to ensure that it will pass according to your wishes with as little cost and delay as possible. Additionally, properly funding your plan will enable your loved ones to seamlessly take care of you during any period of incapacity or disability.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll examine some of the basics of “funding” your estate plan. It is easy to ignore this vital step, especially after you have expended the energy just to get your documents done. I caution you to check the funding of your assets annually to ensure that they still do what you want, and that it carries out your plan.
Cassandra Jones is an elder law and family law attorney in Gardnerville. She can be reached at 782-0040.