Do I Really Need A Will?

Having a will can avoid many unforeseen problems and is clearly preferable to dying intestate (without a will). On the other hand, having a living trust is almost always preferable to having a will only.

Does My Will Avoid Probate?

No. One of the common misperceptions is that if you have a will, you avoid probate. To the contrary, I tell my clients that they should consider their will to be an engraved invitation to their heirs to go to court.

What Triggers Probate?

In Nevada, the threshold for having to go to court is an embarrassingly low $20,000, or if you own any real estate regardless of its value. So whether you have a will or not, if you are a Nevada resident and pass away owning any real estate or if the value of your estate exceeds $20,000, your heirs are forced to go to court to clear title to your assets. Everything is tied up in court until the judge determines that everything has been done properly. This typically takes a year or more, and can cost your heirs 5% or more of your estate.

Learn more about what probate entails.

Is There Any Benefit To Having A Will?

Having a valid will is better than not having anything in place. Some common problems that can be avoided by having a will are:

Avoid Having To Post Bond

I have a client whose wife passed away while owning approximately $500,000 of assets in her name. She died intestate, meaning without a will. They had been married many years, and all the assets in her name were community property.

Under Nevada intestacy laws, as community property, everything she had in her name passed to him. So far so good. The problem was that because her estate exceeded $20,000 a probate was required.

We filed a petition with the probate court to have him appointed as the administrator of her estate. Under Nevada law, because she had no will that waived bond, the court was required to make him post a $500,000 bond to protect himself as the sole beneficiary of the estate from what he may to do himself as the administrator of her estate! Ridiculous? Clearly. We're not talking what's rational or reasonable, we're talking what the law requires.

Needless to say, the client was not happy about having to go through probate. He could have easily avoided probate and the entire legal system if he had simply taken the time to set up a trust. They could have done so for a fraction of the cost of going to court and avoided a great deal of time and stress and anxiety simply by creating a trust.

Allow The Right Person To Serve As Personal Representative (Executor) Of Your Estate

Under Nevada law, if a person dies intestate, a Nevada resident must be appointed as the personal representative of the estate. This means that if the decedent's children live outside of Nevada, they cannot act alone as mom's or dad's personal representative. They would need to hire someone in Nevada to serve.

This problem can easily be avoided by having a will. If mom or dad had a will, they could have named a child or anyone they want to serve as personal representative regardless of where that person lives.

Cremation Or Burial?

It is very easy to designate in your will your desires for cremation or burial. We recently had an unfortunate situation where the decedent wanted to be cremated but didn't ever so indicate in writing. He had been estranged from his children for decades. He didn't even know where they lived. His will disinherited them and nominated a neighbor to serve as the personal representative of his estate.

The funeral home refused to have him cremated unless his children as his next of kin consented. The personal representative was told that his estate would be charged $300 a day to keep his remains on ice until the kids consented. Ridiculous? Clearly.

He could have easily avoided this by simply adding one short sentence in his will that he desired his remains to be cremated.

At Robert L. Bolick, Ltd., your needs come first. We are here to help you create an estate plan that serves the best interests of you and your loved ones.

Over 30 Years Of Estate Planning Experience

Robert L. Bolick is a Nevada estate planning attorney with more than 30 years of experience helping individuals and families plan for the future. He provides customized estate planning services tailored to fit your unique needs.

Take Control Of Your Estate Today

Make your wishes known. Meet with a compassionate, experienced estate planning lawyer today. Call our Las Vegas office at 702-690-9090 or contact us online.