Boulder City Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Lawyer's Edge
by Bruce L. Woodbury, Esq.
Jolley Urga Wirth Woodbury & Standish

A Deed Which Takes Effect Only Upon Death

Many clients of modest means want to pass their assets to their children or other beneficiaries upon their death without probate, but do not want to incur the expense of forming a living trust. Since they do not want to

share control of their property or make their assets liable for the debts of others, it is usually a bad idea to make the beneficiary a co-owner.

In the state of Nevada, there is a simple way to accomplish the goal of transferring real property to designated persons or nonprofit organizations after the death of the owners without probate proceedings.  This is accomplished by recording a conveyance by deed which becomes effective only upon the death of the grantor. The beneficiary does not gain a present ownership interest but only an expectation of future ownership.

Under this procedure, sole control of the property remains in the hands of the owner, who can sell, lease, or mortgage the property without the consent of the prospective transferee. No taxable gift is made by creating such a deed, and the property does not become subject to the debts of the prospective transferee.  Upon the death of the property owner, the beneficiary receives the same tax advantage through a step up in basis on the entire property as if he or she had inherited it. The designation of the beneficiary may be changed or revoked at any time without the consent of the other party.

Similar actions can be taken for bank or credit union accounts and various kinds of investment accounts by making them payable upon death to designated persons.  While a living trust is the best form of estate planning, there can be other suitable avenues for people with limited holdings.

Bruce L. Woodbury is an attorney with the law firm of Jolley Urga Wirth Woodbury & Standish.  The firm has offices in Boulder City and Las Vegas. To contact Bruce, call him at 293-3674 or 699-7500, or visit his website at

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