Many Nevada residents will work their entire lives with the hope of leaving something of value to their heirs. The unfortunate truth is that it sometimes does not happen as planned. Inheritances are not always guaranteed. This is especially true if the proper estate planning has not been performed. The annual Nevada Safe Deposit Box Auction is a strong indicator of that.This event takes place each year and is organized by the state treasurer's office. It consists of abandoned safe deposit boxes held by banks and casinos. After three years of dormancy, this unclaimed property goes up for auction. Casinos and banks will try to locate owners but if they cannot, they will turn the property over to the state, which will do its own search for the owners. If that fails, the property goes up for sale.
As of right now, the estate tax exemption is $5 million, with a top marginal rate of 35 percent. That means for most residents in Las Vegas, the estate tax does not apply. But in 2013, the current law will expire, causing the exemption amount to drop to $1 million. The top marginal rate will rise to 55 percent. This large change could scoop up quite a few Las Vegas estate owners and force their heirs to pay estate taxes.
More money -- more problems. At least that is the conclusion of a recent survey of wealthy Americans conducted by Barclays Wealth, although the survey results could certainly apply to even those of modest means in Nevada. Amongst its many findings was the revelation that nearly 25 percent of high-net-worth individuals do not trust their children to protect their inheritance.
Probate litigation can be a means by which families ensure the intentions of a deceased loved one are carried out. Nevada residents may be interested to learn the heirs of the former owners of Belward Farm -- a Civil War-era farm -- have filed a lawsuit against Johns Hopkins University. The probate litigation centers on the terms of a 1989 agreement that transferred ownership of the farm, located in Maryland, to Johns Hopkins University. The heirs claim the agreement stipulates that the property be used only for "academic purposes, research or medical care". It is also stipulated that no more than 1.4 million square feet can be developed. However, it is believed by the property's heirs that Johns Hopkins' plan to develop 4.7 million-square-foot campus and science park on the property violates the terms of the agreement.
For Nevada residents wondering if proper estate planning is a good idea or not, the following story may answer that question. In 2006, an American multimillionaire died and left the majority of his fortune to a new foundation that was intended and dedicated to feeding Panama's poor children. A 7,000 acre tract along Panama's Pacific Coast, called Hacienda Santa Monica, was dedicated as part of a plan to grow for poor kids from seeds. He separately provided for his politically connected Panamanian wife and her children.