A Last Will and Testament is often a fundamental part of an estate plan. It is one of the estate planning documents that everyone should have, regardless of their wealth.
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that expresses one’s final wishes regarding the persons who should receive the decedent’s property after one’s their death. The document also allows one to state who should serve as the executor of their estate and who should serve as the guardian of any minor children.
There is no minimum amount of assets required to create a Will. A Will is typically necessary, regardless of the value of one’s estate, to ensure that one’s wishes regarding the distribution of assets after death are followed. A Will is especially important if there are minor children as it allows one to nominate a guardian for them should they, the parent, die. Sometimes, the larger the estate, the more sophisticated estate plan is needed and a simple Will may not be sufficient.
Contrary to a common misconception, having a Will does not mean that the court probate process will be avoided. With a Will, the estate still has to go through probate; however, instead of the laws of intestate succession, the wishes expressed in one’s Will control the distribution of assets to beneficiaries and the appointment of guardians for any minor children.
In Nevada, a Will is created by following the rules of Chapter 133 of Nevada Revised Statutes. The requirements of the Statute are strictly enforced and failure to comply with them often results in a Will being invalid, and thus unenforceable. In general, a will must be in writing, signed by the testator, thus the person creating it, and witnessed by two other people, who also must sign the Will in the presence of the Testator. Most of the time, the Will does not need to be notarized.
Once the Will is properly executed, it should be stored in a safe place that can be easily located after one’s death, such as a safe or a fireproof metal box located at home. If the Will is stored in a bank safety deposit box, it is essential that at least one person likely to outlive the Testator is authorized to access the safety deposit box. If no one is authorized to access the safety deposit box, a court order will be required by the bank to open it. When the Will is safely stored, a person appointed as personal representative should be notified of the Will’s location.
If a person dies without leaving a Will, the estate will have to go through the probate process and will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. It means that the statute, applied by the judge, rather than one’s wishes, will determine the beneficiaries of one’s estate. For example, if a couple is unmarried, a surviving partner will not receive any inheritance, despite possible plans and wishes to the contrary. Furthermore, the statute does not address the issue of guardian for any minor children.
Consequently, having a Will makes the probate administration process more efficient by achieving one’s goals, addressing concerns, and avoiding many undesired consequences. A carefully developed, maintained, and regularly updated estate plan makes already difficult time much easier for one’s family.