1. Convert Probate Assets to Non-Probate Assets!
Not as complicated as it sounds, especially if you already have a trust. For those who do, you need to retitle your assets into your revocable trust. For those who lack a trust, until you create one you can help ensure your heirs avoid the expense and labor of probate by naming payable-on-death beneficiaries on your accounts. Any institution is familiar with the strategy and can help you with the election rather quickly. And while this is only an intermediary step before you complete your trust, at a minimum you will have saved your heirs a whole lot of headaches should something happen to you.
2. Get Your Health Care Power of Attorney in Place!
Death is a part of life, but unfortunately more and more of us will suffer from mental incapacitation issues as we age, according to the World Health Organization. To be prepared, you must have a durable power of attorney in force that names someone to act on your behalf for medical decisions if you can’t do so for yourself. Now for some definitions:
- Living Will: Also known as an advance directive. It should accompany your health care power of attorney and governs difficult end-of-life decisions. If you’re a Nevada resident there’s no good excuse not to have these two critical documents. Email or call me and I’m happy to send you the forms you need at no charge. Note: a living will is not a DNR (nor is it a last will and testament for that matter).
- DNR: A document that instructs health care providers and first responders not to administer life-resuscitating treatment should it be necessary to keep you alive. In Nevada, a DNR (aka Do Not Resuscitate) must be executed through a consultation and in conjunction with your physician. That form can be found here.
3. Create a Record of your Assets!
Of course you’re going to be the one to live forever. All the more reason to follow through on this step since you have so much time! Grab a notepad, open an Excel spreadsheet, sketch out a diagram, just do something to record where to find your property. This exercise will serve two purposes. First, it’s a good opportunity to consolidate cash, examine your investments, and ensure everything has been converted to non-probate status (see above). But second, if something happens to you, you’ll have left a road map your spouse, children, and/or heirs can use to track everything down. The Nevada State Treasurer’s Office is full of unclaimed property, much of it left behind by decedents whose families’ never knew where to look. Losing you would be hard enough. Save your loved ones the trouble of searching high and low for your property by leaving a list of assets, account numbers, login information and other identifying details to help soften the blow.
All three of these items can be completed on your own. Of course, I’m happy to lighten the load and walk you through these and much more as we discuss and complete your estate plan. Feel free to reach out at any time with questions or to get started.