Benjamin Franklin once said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” Another thing for certain is that people react to the loss of a loved one in all sorts of ways. Some are so overcome by grief that they are unable to think about legal matters. Others jump into the work of settling the estate to help deal with their loss. This month’s newsletter will share a checklist of considerations when faced with the death of a loved one.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” Another thing that is for certain is that people deal with death, taxes, and the work of settling an estate in all sorts of different ways.

Here is a brief checklist of important considerations if you are faced with the loss of a loved one. This list is a general guide and may not fully reflect the complexity ad time commitment involved with administering an estate.

  1. Under Nevada law, the person in possession of the decedent’s original “Last Will and Testament” needs to file it with county clerk’s office within 30 days of death.
  2. The decedent’s assets should be secured to prevent waste or theft from the estate. It’s also a good idea to start gathering the decedent’s mail to get an idea of what assets and debts exist.
  3. If the person had a revocable trust – or living trust – then an “Affidavit of Successor Trustee” needs to be prepared for the trust. This document will authorize the successor trustee to act on behalf of the trust.
  4. If there are assets which need to be probated, then the appropriate probate proceedings need to be initiated with the court. Probate is the process whereby title to a decedent’s assets is passed to the beneficiaries. Probate also allows any creditors to file claims for debts against the estate. Probate gets a bad rap, but the process can be useful to help deal with battling beneficiaries and/or extensive creditors.
  5. The executor of the will is in charge of probating any assets that need to go through the probate process. If the decedent had a trust, probate may not be required if all of the assets were titled in the name of the trust. While you can attempt to navigate probate on your own, most people turn to an attorney to help prepare the necessary legal documents.
  6. If the size of the estate exceeds the current federal estate tax exemption ($5,340,000 in 2014) then a federal estate tax return may need to be filed. If the estate exceeds the current exemption level, I strongly recommend that you consult with an attorney and CPA as soon as possible.

Probate and trust administration can be confusing – especially when simultaneously dealing with grief. Please contact me with any questions you may have or if our team here at Garman Turner Gordon may be of assistance.

Cordially, Kristin Tyler