Tricks to Avoid Probate

In Reno, Nevada there are a few options to consider when facing a possible probate case. Probate can be costly, time consuming, and difficult on the family, and so it is beneficial to weigh other options. An experienced Reno estate planning lawyer can ease the stress and risks associated.

Living Trusts

In Nevada, living trusts can help protect any assets you may own such as real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, etc. A trust is created and you name someone to take over as trustee after your death (called a successor trustee). Once the trust is created you must transfer ownership of your property to yourself, as the trustee of the trust, then the property will be controlled by the terms of the trust. At your death, your named successor trustee will be able to transfer it to the named trust beneficiaries without the timely and expensive probate court proceedings.

Joint Ownership

If you own property jointly with someone, such as a spouse or relative, and this ownership includes the “right of survivorship,” then the surviving owner automatically becomes the sole owner of the property upon death of the other owner, thus avoiding probate. There is some paperwork necessary to show that solely the surviving owner holds the title to the property.

In Reno, Nevada, there are two forms of joint ownership that are available:

  • Joint tenancy, which is where the property held in joint tenancy passes to the surviving owners when one owner dies, avoiding probate. Joint tenancy works well when couples acquire valuable property such as real estate, vehicles, and bank accounts and each joint tenant owns an equal share.
  • Community property with right of survivorship. Since Nevada is a community property state, where all assets acquired during the marriage are held jointly unless otherwise specified as separate, then if held with the right of survivorship, it automatically passes to the survivor when one spouse dies.

Payable-On-Death Designations for Bank Accounts

In Nevada, a bank account can have a “payable-on-death” (POD) designation so that upon your death, the beneficiary can claim the money from the bank without needing a probate. You are in control of all the money in the account during your lifetime– your POD beneficiary has no rights to the money until after your death.

Transfer-On-Death Registration for Securities

In Nevada stocks and bonds can be put in a transfer-on-death (TOD) form. A common account held in a TOD form is a brokerage account. When an account is register in TOD, the named beneficiary inherits the account automatically at your death without the need for probate, and the beneficiary will deal directly with the brokerage company to transfer the account to their name.

Transfer-On-Death Deeds for Real Estate

In Nevada, real estate with a transfer-on-death deed, called a “deed upon death” can be recorded on the deed in the present, but the transfer would not take effect until after your death. Just like all other deeds, you can revoke the deed or sell the property; and the named beneficiary on the deed will have no rights to the property until your death.

Transfer-On-Death Registration for Vehicles

Nevada allows transfer-on-death registration of vehicles, which allows your named beneficiary to inherit the vehicle after your death without the need for probate.