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Estate planning to do list: update your will

Many Nevada residents may prefer the "Band-Aid" approach to estate planning: get it done fast, get it over with, and move on -- like pulling off a Band-Aid. For this reason, many residents will be dismayed to learn that keeping up with a will and the details of estate planning are a lifelong process. This approach is easy to recognize when one considers all the changes that take place within the course of a person's lifetime; people get married, they have children, their family dynamics change and they accumulate assets. The majority of people go about life without considering the need to update their will. Unfortunately, this oversight can end up causing trouble for family members in the long run.

A recent news report highlighted some of the reasons that the establishment and update of beneficiaries and the various components of a will are of the utmost importance when it comes to estate planning.

One of the scenarios addressed had to do with situations when an individual divorces and later decides to get remarried -- often the trouble in this situation arises when there are children from the previous marriage. The spouse(s) with children sometimes still wants to include them as beneficiaries instead of or in addition to their new spouse. Addressing these intents in a will or other appropriate documents is the best way to ensure your wishes are carried out.

Additionally, the beneficiary specifically designated to receive retirement funds supersedes the provisions that may be recorded in a will. Meaning, if a remarried person updated their will to include their new spouse, but the prior spouse is still listed as the beneficiary/recipient of their retirement funds -- the former spouse would inherit the funds in the event of the ex-spouse's death.

Difficulties can also occur in the event of a new career or job change; as well as changes in bank accounts and stocks.

In short, the naming of beneficiaries is one of the most important things a person can do when estate planning. And for people who have put all thoughts of estate planning behind them may benefit from taking a moment to consider all the changes that have occurred in their life since the original establishment of a will. There are a number of details that make the estate planning process a bit intimidating. For residents of Nevada, consultation with a qualified legal counsel experienced in probate law may relieve some of the stress of updating a will.

Source: The Coloradoan, "Be sure to name beneficiary to your estate," James L. Watt, Aug. 28, 2011

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