Take Special Care with Your Electronic Assets

 

 

Transcript:

Hi, my name is Jordan Flake. I’m an estate planning attorney for Clear Counsel Law Group.

As our technology advances, we also have new frontiers in estate planning that attempt to respond to this technology. Obviously, the technology outpaces the estate planning, and the estate planning just tries, sometimes clumsily, to keep up with those situations.

That’s what we have in the case of electronics and electronic information, I guess what I would call electronic assets, if you’ll think of it like that.

 

An Example of an Electronic Asset

If you think of the old days, you would maybe … Let’s say you’re a photographer and you take a bunch of photos and they’re really beautiful.

In the old days, if you had a box up in your attic, you’d say, “My photos that I took” … You either sell them during your life, or you give them away during your life, or you have a box up in your attic that has all these beautiful photos, some of which might be worth money and you say, “I decided to give this to my son, Brian.”

Then Brian could go up into the attic and take that box of photos and say, “Okay I have this box of photos.”

What if in today’s world, I say, “I want my photos to go to Brian,” but before I die I give my hard drive to my son, Jared. Jared has a hard drive that has all of my photos on in, and Brian has the photos that are sitting there in a box.

Who really is entitled to those photos?

Then Jared decides to sell all of those electronic file photos to these photography websites and magazines who pay him a lot of money for it. Then Brian gets really mad and says, “Dad specifically gave me all his photos.” Jared says, “No he didn’t.

He gave me his hard drive where all the electronic copies were held, and you could have sold those photos off to those websites and those magazines if you wanted to, but you just kept them in the box.

 

Why You Want to Discuss Electronic Assets With Your Estate Planning Attorney

You can kind of see how that’s a weird scenario where the existence of an electronic asset, where as before you just would’ve had a physical asset, really creates a potential ambiguity for your clients.

What you’ll want to do in each of these cases, is meet with an attorney who is sophisticated enough to understand some of those subtleties and have a bigger picture about how might this instruction have been misinterpreted.

Just taking this example, I would for example walk the client through and say,

“All right. You want your photos to go to Brian. What exactly do you mean by that? You have a box in your attic, but you also have potentially a hard drive, or maybe you emailed a few of these out to your family and said hey look I went to Yellowstone this last weekend and I took this amazing photo. Does them having a copy of that constitute basically the right to use this photo and to re-sell it?”

We really have to draw back and drill into it and say, “Okay how do we define what you’re actually giving away when you’re giving away this photo of yours?”

It could be more than just a photo. It could be, say your mom was really good at some administrative process and she created several different workbooks or outlines on how to deal with this complex administrative process, then she printed those out.

She gives them to Brian again. Brian gets the printed copy and Jared gets the computer hard drive that has all the electronic copies on it.

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This situation is happening more and more, that people have things that are actually valuable that exist both in the physical world and strictly in the electronic world. It’s important to meet with an estate planning attorney so that you can delineate what to do in each of those situations.

 

How We Help Keep Your Digital Assets Safe

While I’m on the topic of computers and computer hard drives, with increasing frequency we’re seeing situations where people don’t leave adequate information about where their electronic assets are held or kept.

A simple example of this is passwords. There might be websites that are hosting valuable digital assets or electronic assets.

There could be, for example, an individual who has several profitable websites that are membership-paid websites and they’re the domain holder and user and operator for these websites and they’re receiving income from them.

What happens if that individual passes away?

Who is going to be capable of going in an managing those websites and handling everything that needs to happen so that they’re either wound down properly and the assets are liquidated, or they continue to run and create a profit?

 

Estate Planning Has Changed Quite a Bit Recently

These are some of the types of questions that you need to ask that you wouldn’t have had to ask 20 years ago.

There’s a lot of different resources at our disposal to make sure that all of the passwords are written down, all of the websites are written down properly, all of the electronic and digital assets are identified specifically.

We can have different web services that will be the main hub for all of your passwords and all of your websites.

There’s just really a lot of different options, so it’ll be up to you to come meet with us to determine how to make sure that you don’t fall into any of these ambiguities with your digital assets. I’d be happy to meet with you and discuss this. You just have to be forward thinking about these things, because technology does move very fast.

Thanks so much.

 

When You Might Come Across a Double Probate

 

 

Transcript:

Hi, my name is Jonathan Barlow. I’m a partner at Clear Counsel Law Group.

Free Consultations Available at No Obligation to You

Recently had a question asked about what is a double probate.

That can be a fairly complex probate question and before we get into the complexities of that question about what double probate is, I want to make sure that if you have any questions about a double probate after watching this video, wondering how it might apply to your situation, we do a free consultation here at our office that has no obligation to you.

We’re glad to answer any questions you might have about the process. Often times during that free consultation, we end up resolving all of the questions for the client at that time and it costs them nothing to get the answers they need and they go on their way without any further obligation to us.

If it looks like there may be further questions or further legal work that has to be done, we’ll give you a roadmap of where you have to go with that, what you might expect in the legal process, and we’ll give you an estimate of the cost it’ll be to hire the attorney to help you finish that part of the legal process. Again, that’s at no obligation to you. We’re happy to do that as a free initial consultation to answer any questions.

Let me tell you a little bit about what might happen in that consultation if you came in with a double probate question.

You’re wondering “Hey, someone told me I have a double probate on my hands. What do I do?” As an initial matter, it’s important to understand some basic issues about what probate is, how it arises, and how that could lead to this double probate.

 

First, What is Probate?

First of all, what is probate? A probate occurs when somebody dies and they have an asset, whether a house or a car or a bank account, whatever it might be, that is in the deceased person’s name only.

Again, meaning there’s no surviving joint owner, there’s no beneficiary designated to receive that asset. Again, it has just the deceased person’s name on that account, only the deceased person’s name on the title to the house, something like that.

 

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If you have an asset like that or if the deceased person has an asset like that, the only way to get that asset transferred to whomever it’s supposed to go to is to go through the probate court process, which may be very simple or it may be much more complex depending on the assets involved.

 

What is Probate Court?

What is the probate court process? That is a process where the court oversees essentially the payment of your assets to whomever they’re supposed to go to. The court oversees the payment of your debts and the distribution of your assets to your heirs or to those that you list in your will to receive your assets. So it’s a process for somebody to take those assets through that and the court oversees where that money goes.

Let’s assume that mother has passed away. When mom passed away, she had a house. The house was in just mom’s name. However, mom was still married at the time of her death so she had a surviving spouse.

Well dad was still living in the house after mom passed away and he never bothered to go through the probate court process because again he was living there, he didn’t think he needed to do it, maybe he forgot that his name wasn’t on the title, everyone just assumed that mom and dad were both on the title to the house.

Some years later, I’ve seen this actually 25, 30 years pass before this pops up, dad dies.

Now the children realize, “Well we need to do something with mom and dad’s house.”

They realize well we’ve got to take care of dad’s estate in probate court, meaning we got to get dad’s property and assets distributed and transferred out.

In that process, they look at the deed to the house and lo and behold they discover that dad’s name wasn’t actually on the tittle to the house, it was just mom’s name. Mom died 20 years ago.

 

Now It’s Time to Discuss Double Probate

That gives rise to that double probate situation because when mom died 20 years ago, that house was in her name only.

In order to transfer that title, her estate, her property has to go through the probate court process. Now the interesting thing is when mom died, had her estate gone through probate, the persons that would have received her property, depending on various things, her husband, dad, would have received part of that property, would have become his property at that time.

Thus when he died, his interest in that property would have to go through probate court.

So that’s where this double probate comes up. Mom died and had an asset in her name only. That’s got to go through the probate court process.

The end result of mom’s probate process is that dad’s interest in that property goes to dad’s estate. Then dad’s estate has to go through probate to decide who gets it from dad’s estate.

So we end up having to file two probate cases to transfer the same property from one person to the next, and from that person then to whomever is supposed to receive it at that point, whether that’s the closest next of kin or whether he prepared a will and said “Under my will I want it to go to the following individuals.”

This double probate can be a pretty messy thing, it usually happens and it surprises people that there was some asset that was in one person’s name only that they didn’t take care of many years ago.

It gets into some complexities that you have to resolve and go through this process.

 

We Can Help You With Complex Probate Matters

We here at Clear Counsel have done this many times and have dealt with this issue and helping people get through this process of resolving two estates in one shot and getting it done so that those assets are transferred on to the heirs that are entitled to them at that point.

So if you have questions about this, again we’re glad to answer questions about probate, about a double probate again in a free, no obligation consultation where we can answer your questions for you.

If you have any questions about that, go ahead and give us a call at 702-476-5900 and we’ll be glad to answer any questions you might have.

 

You Must Specifically Disinherit in Nevada

 

Disclose All Uncomfortable Facts to Your Lawyer, And How to Disinherit

Transcript:

Hi my name is Jordan Flake, I am an estate planning attorney at Clear Counsel Law group and today I want to talk about why it’s really important to tell your estate planning attorney everything.

Sometimes we have these clients who have a child who they just don’t really associate with them as a child anymore.

In fact, often times they’ve considered themselves to have moved on from that relationship. It may not necessarily be a child it can also be a brother or sister or in an estranged situation it could be a spouse.

We have had cases and we have seen cases where someone will come into our law firm and say well ask, “How many children do you have?” They’ll say, “Well I have 2 kids. I have Bob and Susie” and we’ll say, “Okay great.” We’ll include those 2 individuals in their estate planning and then we’ll find out later on down the road that in addition to Bob and Susie they have a child named Johnny.

The problem is they haven’t talked to Johnny in 10 years. It ended badly and they didn’t wish to provide for him.

The client over on the other side of the table is thinking, “If I just don’t tell the attorney at all about Johnny, then only Susie and Bobby will show up in the estate planning and only Susie and Bobby will get part of my estate.”

That seems to be a good idea from their standpoint. Now, some of you who are viewing this may already be able to anticipate what is wrong with that. In Nevada and in other states, it’s necessary to specifically disinherit your next of kin.

 

Why Nevada Requires You to Expressly Disinherit

Otherwise there’s a presumption in the law that you just somehow made an error and excluded them on accident and so if I say,”I want to give everything to my 2 kids Bobby and Susie” and I don’t mention my third kid Johnny, Johnny can come along after I pass away and say, “Hey, here I am. You know dad said he wanted to give everything equally with his kids.”

Bobby and Susie will say, “Whoa Johnny first of all we haven’t seen you in 10 years. Second of all there’s a problem because we can point very clearly to the language in the estate plan that says he wants everything to go to the 2 of us.”

Then Johnny could say, “Whoa, no it says equally between the kids and he just forgot to put me on there. That’s all that’s happened here.”

That’s why it’s very necessary in Nevada when you’re doing your estate planning to specifically disinherit Johnny.

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Often times we’ll put a provision in there that says,”For the purposes of my estate planning I desire to disinherit Johnny and I desire that he be treated as though he had pre-deceased me” so that literally nothing goes to him and so that he won’t have any power over the estate planning at all.

There’s different language you can use.

Sometimes it’s the case that you have Bobby, Susie and Johnny and you just gave Johnny his share of the inheritance before you passed away and in that case we can use a little bit more amicable language where you say, “I do not desire to provide for Johnny through this estate plan that I am preparing because I provided to him a living gift several years ago” or whenever it was.

 

There’s No Good Reason to Lie to Your Lawyer. S/He is Your Lawyer.

These are different things to take into consideration but the real red flag and the thing that I want you to remember and take away is don’t hold anything back from your estate planning attorney precisely because you’re not sure of the impact of withholding that information on your eventual estate plan.

It’s really good to know for example, do you have a prior marriage where there may not have been a divorce finalized. We see this happen a lot too. A couple will get married, they’ll have a falling out.

They’ll intend to divorce. They may even start the divorce process but they never ever really finalized it.

They never did a divorce discharge and what happens is later on down the road they meet somebody else and they say, “Hey, I want to give you all of my assets when I die.”

They’ll basically draft up an estate plan but then they’ll fail to properly get rid of that spouse who under the eyes of the law is still a spouse.

This is really a scary situation because you don’t end up getting exactly what you want. Make sure you talk to an estate planning attorney about all of these types of issues so that with the benefit of our knowledge and experience we can make sure that there’s not going to be some land mine that crops us later.

If you’re in a situation like this where you may want to disinherit someone. You may have some kind of legal issue that was never fully wrapped up from earlier in your life or maybe you just want to know that you don’t have some sort of landmine that’s going to crop up, please come to me with your estate planning.

I’ll do a no charge consultation.

I’ll sit down and review your estate plan whether you have documents or whether you just, your estate plan maybe right now is just in your mind and you need to get it out on paper.

In either situation, I am more than happy to meet with you and for sure when we meet make sure you tell me everything.

Thanks so much.

 

Watch This Before Revising Your Own Will

 

 

Pitfalls of Amending Your Own Will

Transcript:

Jonathan Barlow: Hello. My name is Jonathan Barlow. I’m an attorney here at Clear Counsel Law Group. A question that frequently comes up from my clients is: If they have a Will, can they make their own handwritten changes on the face of that Will within the document themselves or do they have to go to an attorney to the Will changed?

This question comes up surprisingly all the time, both while somebody’s alive and they’re wanting to change their own Will and after that person has died and the family member comes in and they say, “Hey, I have Mom’s Will, and look. There’s all these handwritten changes on it.”

So the question is: Can you do that? Number two, more importantly, if they did make those handwritten changes, are those handwritten changes valid? Are they legally enforceable?

We see this all the time where someone comes in, they bring a Will, and I’ve got scratches out or there’s crossing things out. They’ve got arrows pointing here and there. They may have a 25% with an X through it that says now 15% next to it. They’ll have a scratch-out across Johnny’s name, and they’ll write in Sally’s name underneath it. So we see these kind of changes happen frequently.

 

Will with Pen, estate planning, probate, Las Vegas, Nevada

 

The biggest question overall is, we’re trying to figure out what was the intent of that person. Did they intend to make that change? Is that what they wanted to do?

So if the person has already passed away, that’s what the probate court is going to do. They’re going to look at those handwritten changes, and they’re going to determine: Is that what the person intended? If it is, they’re going to do the best they can to enforce that intent.

While you’re still alive, you can make those handwritten changes, but you’re setting things up for some messy things down the road after you pass away.

We’re going to look at the second question, which is: If you have those handwritten changes, are they legally enforceable? Are they legally valid changes?

 

An Example

Let’s assume that someone came in, mom’s passed away, and they have a Will. Mom’s done one of those things where she scratched out one of her son’s names and instead, wrote in the friend down the street, Susie, and gave Susie 25% of the estate.

The son, in this case, is concerned about this scratch-out. He asks me, “Is that legally valid? Can Mom disinherit me like that by scratching me out and writing in Susie’s name from down the street?”

The answer, as is often the case in the law, it depends.

 

What is a Holographic Will?

In order for those handwritten changes to be determined to be valid, they have to meet the requirements of what’s called a holographic Will.

A holographic Will is a handwritten Will, where the entire Will is written in the hand of the person; they sign and date it.

So in order for a holographic Will to be valid, you have to have three things:

  1. It has to be handwritten by the person in their own handwriting,
  2. it has to be dated by the person, and
  3. it has to be signed by the person.

There’s no witness requirements. There’s no notary requirements in order for it to be valid.

Those same three requirements are going to apply with these handwritten changes in the Will. We’re going to look at these changes, which by the way are called interlineations which technically means a change within the margins or change between the lines.

We’re going to look at these interlineations and determine as to each one of those, did it meet those three requirements for the holographic Will? Was it in the person’s own handwriting? Did they date it? Did they sign it?

 

Common Problem Regarding Interlineations

The most frequent problem that we see in trying to enforce these interlineations is that we’re missing one of those three requirements. They either didn’t date it or they didn’t sign it. Sometimes people question whether it’s in the person’s handwriting. Most frequently that’s not the case. It usually is in the person’s handwriting.

So what we’ll see is, say, on page two of the Will, they cross out something there, they make an interlineation change in their writing, they flipped to page four and they changed the executor provision by scratching out Bob’s name and writing in Joe’s name.

Then on page four, that’s where they put their initials or they sign it there and they date it there, but they didn’t do that as to page two.

So the big question becomes, and I would argue, that those handwritten changes on page two don’t meet the requirements of a holographic Will because it wasn’t dated and it wasn’t signed on that page.

How are we to know that the person made the changes on page two the same day they made the changes on page four? Again, in order for those to be determined valid by the court, the court would be looking at those requirements of a holographic Will.

 

Why Intent Matters

Another problem that often comes up is the question of intent. Is this really what the person intended to make these changes? Is that really what they wanted to do?

I’ve seen personally circumstances where somebody has been, essentially they’ve just been brainstorming, and they’ve been using their Will as a way to brainstorm about how they might want to change it; not necessarily that they did want to change it. So they’ll get out their Will, and they’ll look at the percentages that they put in there for people. They’ll start doing some math and doing some changes and trying to add it all up, but that’s not necessarily what they intended to have as their final document. That was simply brainstorming or doodling on their Will.

 

How Will a Probate Court Address an Invalid Will?

So we have to ask: Is that what they intended to do or is that what they were simply thinking about doing? Brian has a question on this issue.

 

Brian: If someone amends a Will incorrectly, will a probate court throw the whole Will out and their estate will be administered intestate?

 

Jonathan Barlow: That’s an excellent question. Let’s say we’ve looked at this. The interlineation appears to be improperly done. It doesn’t meet one of those requirements. Will the court necessarily not follow that change? Will the court, in and of itself, say, “No. No good. We’re not going to follow it”? This really only applies if there’s some type of contest, if people are fighting about the interlineation.

If everybody who has an interest – say, all of the kids or everyone that’s named there – if they all agree and say, “Even though it’s missing a date, we want to enforce that part of it,” they can all agree and sign an agreement saying, “Even though it’s missing a date, even though it might be missing a signature on that particular place, we agree that that’s what Mom wanted to do and we agree that that’s what she intended to do, so we are going to collectively agree to have the Will distributed in that way.” The court would honor that agreement amongst the interested parties, amongst the beneficiaries. It would honor an agreement.

So really, we’re only talking about situations where somebody has raised a concern or raised a contest about the validity of one of those changes. Did that kind of answer that particular question about?

 

Brian:    Sure did. Thank you.

 

Jonathan Barlow: Again, I highly don’t recommend interlineations. People do it frequently. They don’t want to go to a lawyer. They may not have time to go to a lawyer, but it’s just setting things up ripe for potential disaster down the road.

Your estate may not be distributed the way you want it to, either because what you intended wasn’t done clearly enough or you didn’t actually intend to do what you doodled on your Will.

So if you want to make those changes, certainly go and see a lawyer or make sure that it’s done in a nice formal way so it’s very clear what you intended to do unless you want to leave a disaster for your children, which most people don’t want to do.

If you want help with making these changes to your Will while you’re alive or if you have concerns after someone’s passed away and you’ve got Mom and Dad’s Will and it’s got these interlineations and you don’t what to do with them, give me a call here at Clear Counsel Law Group, and I’ll be glad to answer your questions about that and help you determine what Mom or Dad intended and whether it’s legally enforceable.

 

Estate Plan Advice for Snowbirds & People with Assets in Multiple States

 

 

An Estate Plan for Snowbirds

Transcript:

Hi, I’m Jordan Flake. I am an attorney with Clear Counsel Law Group. I focus primarily in estate planning, and today we have a question here from one of our clients. It says, what if you have an estate plan that is out of state, but then you buy a condominium in Nevada to retire and make Nevada your long-term residence? Do you need a new estate plan? Could Nevada estate plan cover out of state assets, such as those that you may have left in Illinois?

I’m going to try to answer this question. Basically the idea is that when you move to a new state, you probably should as a good practice meet with an estate planning attorney in that state. I’m going to talk about why that might be a good idea.

Also, I’m going to talk about how assets work in a revocable estate plan and why it’s okay owning assets in different states, and how to make that function.

 

Updating Your Estate Plan After Moving to Nevada

As you can imagine, I practice here in Nevada, and I get a lot of retirees who move here from other states around the country. Often times, they’ll buy a property here, such as in the question that was asked, and yet often times, they’ll leave property in their former state as well.

In fact, a really common scenario is these self-described snowbirds. What a snowbird is, it’s someone who lives off in Wisconsin during the summer months, when it’s nice and temperate, and then when it gets freezing cold in Wisconsin, the snowbirds move here to Las Vegas, and they spend maybe roughly from November to March where it’s temperate here in Las Vegas, living at their condo here.

 

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I meet with these individuals and they say, “Hey, Jordan, we have changed our long term residence. We really intend to retire in Las Vegas, but we still have our house back in Wisconsin that we go to every summer. Where should we do our estate planning and why?”

My recommendation is to first answer the question, which is really going to be your state of residence? As soon as you answer that question, if it’s Nevada, then you should probably do your estate planning in Nevada. If it’s Wisconsin, then possibly do your estate planning in Wisconsin.

 

Why Nevada?

The reason why a lot of people will opt to have Nevada be their estate planning destination is because Nevada has really good robust estate planning laws that are very highly developed, to the point that different provisions have been tested here in the court setting, which means that as an estate planning attorney, we can have the confidence to implement various provisions that have undergone robust testing at the court level, so that we know they’re highly enforceable.

We actually have a lot of clients who live out of state who opt to do their estate planning here, precisely because Nevada’s estate planning laws are so favorable and so protective of the clients and the grantors in these situations.

I would say that if you intend to make Nevada your long-term residence, then the answer is very easy. You should do a Nevada estate plan. Even if you don’t, you may still wish to consider it because Nevada has better laws.

That of course raises the question, let’s say I’m intending to make Wisconsin my long-term residence. How can I do a Nevada estate plan? Are estate plans enforceable across state lines? The answer is generally yes. Generally, states will give effect to legal documents created in other states. The mere passage from one state to another does not automatically nullify estate planning documents. I know that’s true of Nevada, and I’m pretty sure it’s true of every single state in the United States.

Basically, if you want to think of it another way, imagine you and your buddy both lived in California at the time, had an agreement that he would paint all your houses for $50,000, and you basically have this agreement for the next 3 years, your buddy’s going to paint all your houses, any houses that you own, for $50,000, and you both live in California at the time of that agreement.

Both of you decide to move to Nevada, and the question is, is the agreement that you made in California still enforceable in Nevada? The answer is yes, that contract will go from one state across state lines and still be legally enforceable. That’s true of your estate planning as well. The things that you put in place in one state are generally going to be enforceable in the next state.

It is a little bit different because each state has different laws with how little tiny particulars will arise, or with how probate is handled for example, so that’s why you’ll definitely want to have your estate plan reviewed by an attorney in the state where you intend to make that state your personal long-term residence.

 

Developing an Estate Plan with Property in Multiple Jurisdictions

Come see us. If you have property in Nevada, we can get you set up with a Nevada estate plan. The second part of this question, let’s say you do have a property in Nevada and you do make Nevada your long term residence, and you do have a condo here, and you have transferred that into your estate planning, and that condo now becomes part of your estate plan. What do we do with the summer house in Wisconsin? The answer is very simple. If we create a Nevada estate plan, you can think of it like a box. We create that box and we transfer some of your assets into that box. There’s nothing about the fact that that house is owned in Wisconsin that prevents us from taking that house and transferring it into the Nevada trust. There’s really nothing about that that prevents it.

Regularly, as estate planning attorneys, we’ll sit down and meet with clients who have assets in various states and properties and various states. What we’ll do is we’ll go request a deed from that state and we’ll copy down the legal description and we’ll prepare a deed for that state. We’ll send it out saying, my Wisconsin summer house now is to be transferred into the Johnson family trust, or the Johnson estate planning. You definitely can have a Nevada trust that owns property in various states.

If you’re in either of these situations, if you’re maybe mixing residence between 2 states like Wisconsin and Nevada, and you’re not sure where to do your estate planning, please come talk to me. If you’re a Nevada resident and you have property that’s outside of the state, and you want to make sure it passes according to your wishes, please come see me. Those are both questions that we handle very often. They’re both things for which we can do a complimentary consultation, and please give us a call, set up a consultation, and we’ll be happy to help you out with this. Thanks so much.

How Long Does It Take to Sell an Estates Assets?

 

The Time Period to Sell Estates Assets

Transcript:

Hello, I’m Jonathan Barlow. I’m a probate and estate planning attorney at Clear Counsel Law Group. People often ask us the question of how long does it take to have assets transferred to me after Mom or Dad have passed away? How quickly can I get the bank account transferred to me or how soon can I have the house put into my name? The answer to that question depends largely on the value of those assets. The Nevada statute set out what those values are and what we have to do in those circumstances.

 

Estates under $25,000

First, there’s total assets under $25,000. There’s a level between $25,000 and $100,000, and in general, anything above $100,000. I’m going to describe briefly these three categories. Under $25,000, if there is no house or land importantly, you can have those assets transferred to you in about 40 days. The statutes say you have to wait 40 days after date of death and after 40 days, you can prepare a document or have a document ready that says, “Mom passed away. She had the following bank account, the following car. We list the assets there. I’m the closest next of kin. I have resolved her debts and I’m entitled to receive her assets.”

Assuming you’ve filled that document out appropriately, you can take that into the bank on Day #40 after Mom passed away, present them with that affidavit, and they would process it through their legal department and in about an hour’s time, they should come back to you with the check with Mom’s bank account and giving that money to you. That’s the fastest you can do it, when it’s under $25,000. There’s a same process with the DMV that you can get car tiles transferred in the same manner when it’s under $25,000.

 

Estates between $25,000 and $100,000

The second level is between $25,000 and $100,000. This is also a fairly quick process but you have to wait 30 days after date of death and after 30 days, you can file a document in the probate court. It does require probate court filing. However, it’s quick and abbreviated. Within about three weeks time after filing, you can have a court order that says, “Hey bank, transfer the bank account or give the bank account to so and so or to so and so.” To whomever it’s supposed to go to.

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That court order could also transfer the title to the land or the house also and so you take that down to the county recorder and that would transfer the house to you. That’s a 30 day wait after Mom or Dad have passed away. You’ve filed your document and then you have a hearing about two to three weeks after that. That’ll take care of estates under $100,000.

 

Estates over $100,000

Now if you’re over $100,000 in assets, you’re in a situation that’s going to require generally a full probate process. Those full probate processes can take … At the very quickest, you’re going to be done in about four months. That’s really cruising through there. In general those usually take six to nine to twelve months, possibly longer depending on what type of assets you’re dealing with and it’s a very involved process at the probate court, a lot of court filings, a lot of court requirements that you have to keep up on.

Now here at Clear Counsel Law Group, we specialize in the probate, in taking care of those things whether it’s under $25,000 or over $100,000, we file hundreds of probate cases to deal with those estates from very small to several million dollar estates. We also specialize in the estate plan part of it, so if you have an estate that’s over $100,000 and you’re concerned about your children having to go through this probate process that’s time consuming, it’s expensive, it’s public, and you want to make it very easy and very simple for your children to get your assets after you pass away, even if they’re over $100,000, come and see us and talk to us because there’s some really great tools that you can use right now and put in place that make it very simple for your children to get your assets after you pass away.

In any situation, whether you’re faced with the under $25,000, under $100,000, over $100,000, here at Clear Counsel Law Group we’re specialists in these areas. We’ve done hundreds of these cases. We’ll be able to help you answer your questions and get those assets to you as quickly as humanly possible as quickly as the statutes will allow you to do that. Give us a call here at Clear Counsel Law Group and we’ll be glad to help you with those things.

 

Three Essential Estate Planning Tools You Must Know

 

The Three Estate Planning Tools Everyone Needs to Know

Transcript:

Jonathan: Hello. My name is Jonathan Barlow. I’m a estate planning attorney at Clear Counsel Law Group. Today, we are talking about people who have relatively few assets and what estate planning tools they might use in order to transfer those assets after they pass away. I want to talk about three tools that they might use today. The first is a will. The second is joint ownership. The third is beneficiary designations.

In order to illustrate how these three tools might work, let me introduce you to one of my hypothetical clients. Her name is Helen. Helen lives here in the Las Vegas area. She has two children, Bob and Suzy.

 

An Estate Planning Hypothetical

Helen’s estate basically has three assets. She has a condo, has about sixty thousand dollars in equity in the condo. She has her bank account and the bank account has three, or four, five thousand dollars in it. She has a car that she’s paid of. The car is worth five or six thousand dollars. Now, Helen, can use all three of these tools to help transfer her assets after her death.

The first thing that she really should do is to prepare a will. A will is a document where Helen can say who she wants to receive her assets after she passes away, in what percentages, in what amounts, under what conditions. Helen can also say in her will who she wants to be in-charge of that process. Who is going to be the executor, the person responsible to make that happen.

Helen can use the will to say, “I want to split my assets equally between my two children.” She could also say, “I want to give Bob seventy percent and Suzy thirty percent.” Whatever the case maybe, she can say that in her will.

The second thing that Helen can also do is to use joint ownership as a way to transfer her assets after she passes away. What joint ownership means is that say she goes into her bank and explains to them, “Hey. I want to add Suzy on to my bank account.” The bank make designations and changes on bank account to add Suzy as a joint owner and she owns it as the same time as Helen.

When Helen dies, the joint owner, in this situation, Suzy, becomes the one hundred percent owner of that bank account, simply by virtue of Helen passing away. Suzy would just have to take a death certificate into the bank, say, “Hey. Mom has passed away.” The bank would essentially just give that money in that account to her without any other work necessary.

 

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The third tool that Helen might use to make it easier to transfer assets in a smaller size to say is beneficiary designations. The most common example of beneficiary designations that we think about would be a life insurance policy. Generally, if we have life insurance on our life, we name somebody as the beneficiary to receive that money after we pass away.

We can do the same thing with other assets. For example, in Nevada, there’s a special form of deed that somebody can sign to name beneficiaries on their house. Helen could sign this beneficiary deed and say, “Upon my death, the house shall be transferred to Bob and Suzy.”

After Helen passes away, Bob and Suzy prepare a document with her death certificate that notes that she’s passed away and the ownership of that house transfers automatically to them without any other work. No probate work or other work required. It becomes a very easy way to transfer that condo that only had sixty thousand dollars in equity in it to her children after she passes away.

Those are three simple tools that can be used to transfer that and there’s a frequent questions that Brian has right now that the people often ask me.

 

Brian: What if there’s a will that has two beneficiaries, but the asset is being held in joint tenancy?

 

Jonathan: That’s a great question. Again, same example. Helen has two kids, Bob and Suzy. Yet, she did just what I described earlier, she went in to the bank and she said, “I just want Suzy to get one…” She added Suzy as the joint owner of the bank account.

The effect of that is that even though she said in the will that she wanted Bob and Suzy to share whatever she had, the joint ownership designation, the joint account designation is going to trump the will. Meaning, Suzy is going to get that account one hundred percent with no legal obligation to share with her brother Bob. Even though the will says that were supposed to share it fifty-fifty.

Again, we want to be careful about how we use those joint designations to make sure that they do actually match up to what you want to do. You may say in the will, “I want to share it with him equally,” but if you make a joint beneficiary designation or a joint account ownership for a beneficiary designation, there’s contrary to that, those will apply and be enforced rather than what you say in the will.

With all three of these tools, the will, joint ownership, and beneficiary designations, there are pros and cons to how they’re used. You want to be careful that that matched up with what you want to accomplished and that they do what you’ve said they want to do.

If you have any questions about this and want help with discussing these three tools and how they work for people with smaller estates, it’s time to give us a call here at Clear Counsel Law Group.

How Should You Own Your Property?

 

 

What Is the Best Way to Hold Your Property?

Transcript:

Jordan: I’m Jordan Flake with Clear Counsel Law Group. I’m an attorney who does estate planning primarily. Occasionally, questions will come up about how property ownership works and operations of law. What I mean by that is how do you hold property in such a way that it will accomplish some of your estate planning objectives? We call this non-attorney estate planning, usually because it doesn’t necessarily require an attorney.

When you purchase a house, you can just tell your real estate agents and the title company how you want to take title to that property. Let’s just use the example of a client who said, “My wife and I and a friend own this duplex together, the three of us. We want to make it so that the last of us to die, the survivor among the three of us, gets all the property?” They don’t necessarily have to go see an attorney to make that happen. They can just tell the title company that they’d like to own the property in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship

What that means is that everybody just owns the property and then the survivors own the property and then the survivor of the survivors gets all the property. That’s called joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. Now there are other ways to own it. There’s something called tenancy in common, which means each would get one-third, one-third, one-third and their undivided one-third share would go to their estate when they passed away.

 

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That wouldn’t accomplish the objectives of which they were requesting from me. Normally, a better way to do all of this is to put it all into a trust because then you can clearly delineate who gets what and when and under what circumstances. Brian, do you have any questions on this form of ownership?

 

Brian: Is it difficult to change the ownership from a joint tenancy to a tenancy in common?

 

Jordan: You can do that just by recording a deed. We can help you prepare the deed that would change the vesting status, it’s called vesting status meaning what happens when a person passes away, but we can prepare a deed that will change the vesting status and we don’t charge much to do that. In fact, we don’t charge at all for the consultation. Any other follow-up questions on this though?

 

Brian: Of the options you described, you said that a trust is preferable to just having it recorded on the deed.

 

Jordan: When you prepare a trust, you also prepare a deed, generally transferring the property into the trust. A trust operates like a box, then you can put property inside that box. The house or the duplex in this case would be something that you’d likely want to deed into the trust. Then the trust gives specific instructions about what happens to that property. Say the husband and wife pass away, but their friend at that time is an elderly gentleman, who’s incapacitated just because of old age.

The trust will prepare for that contingency, whereas merely creating a deed that puts the house into joint tenancy with rights of survivorship doesn’t address that contingency. A trust is much more comprehensive and flexible in terms of addressing several different possible scenarios. That’s what we do as estate planning attorneys. We look out and say, “How can we preemptively address all of these things that can and do happen to people?” That’s why it’s really important to set up a consultation with me. I don’t charge for the initial consultation. I’d be happy to go over this or any other situation that you’re looking at. Thank you.

How to Disown an Adult Child

 

Is It Possible to Disown an Adult Child?

Transcript:

Hi. I’m Jordan Flake. I’m an attorney with Clear Counsel Law Group. I specialize in estate planning. One question that I sometimes get is, “Can I disown my adult child for various reasons?” You may have had falling out with your son or daughter and you just really don’t want anything to do with them anymore. Reality is a lot of the disowning process just happens by operation of law. When someone turns 18, they essentially are considered an adult and have their own rights, responsibilities, and duties, and are really no longer your legal responsibility once they turn 18.

Aside from that though, one thing that a lot of clients will do if they have a child who they have disowned or the relationship cease to exist is disinheritance. What that means is you come into an attorney’s office and whatever you were planning on giving to anyone, you need to explicitly state that you want to disinherit your child. It’s really important that the disinheritance provisions are drafted correctly because if not, you could be facing a situation where your disinherited child comes back and says, “Whoa, it’s very unclear that … They didn’t say anything. They didn’t say the right things about disown me. He told me before he passed away that he wanted me to have something.” They can make all kinds of claims in those circumstances.

 

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The law requires that you specifically disown your own children, and so those provisions have to be drafted correctly. If you’re worried about where your assets go after you pass away and possibly, you have a situation in your family where you don’t want your assets to go to a certain child, then please give us a call, so I can meet with you for a no-charge consultation. We’ll go over your options. Thanks.

Clear Counsel Law group

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