In my consultation with many older clients, I find that their estate planning documents are often out of date and not reflective of their current circumstances. Family situations change over the years, with marriage and divorces, deaths and births. Financial conditions may be better or worse, and the laws which govern wills, trusts and powers of attorney may have been amended. All of these potential changes make it expedient to review your financial and estate planning documents at least every five to ten years.
One example of changes in the laws applicable to important documents is that in 2009 the Nevada Legislature modified the statutes governing the form and content of powers of attorney for health care decisions and powers of attorney for financial decisions. Any such powers of attorney which were executed prior to October 1, 2009 in Nevada, or were prepared in other states, should be replaced by new ones which conform to current Nevada standards.
Wills and trusts should be reviewed to make sure that they still truly reflect your wishes and your present circumstances. It is also important that all of your assets are properly titled, especially if you have a living trust.
Assets such as IRA’s, retirement plans, life insurance contracts and annuities normally have specific beneficiary designations will not pass to those named in a will or trust. Check your records or call your account representative to verify that your beneficiary designations (and contingent beneficiaries) are correct.
It is also good to maintain an updated inventory of one’s assets so that a surviving spouse who was not as involved in handling the couple’s finances, or other heirs, will be able to properly deal with these matters when a family member dies or becomes incapacitated.
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 www.juwws.com.