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

Where There's A Will, There's A Way
Considering how relatively easy and inexpensive it is to obtain a Last Will and Testament, or even a Living Trust, a surprising percentage of people die with no estate planning documents at all. The consequences can be serious.
When a Nevada resident dies intestate (without a valid Will), his or her estate will be distributed through the probate court to the next of kin regardless of the deceased person’s real intentions. This can create unnecessary problems and litigation, especially when there is a surviving spouse and children from a former marriage. The statutes governing intestate succession give the decedent’s share of community property to the spouse, but allow the children to receive a designated percentage of any separate property. With a Will or a Trust, the deceased person’s written instruction will be followed rather than a legislative mandate.

In the absence of a Will the probate court will also look to state law in deciding who will be the Administrator to manage the estate, and an expensive bond will normally be required. The bottom line is that state law rather than your wishes will determine how your assets are administered and distributed unless you take the simple steps involved in effective estate planning.

Some seek to avoid these problems by placing their assets in joint ownership with children, friends or other intended beneficiaries. While this can sometimes be effective for very small estates, complications such as surrendering control as well as adverse tax consequences can be created. Professional advice should be sought before putting someone else’s name on the title to any valuable assets.

Everyone should at least have a Will, and an increasing number of individuals and married couples are taking additional steps to avoid both probate and estate tax through living trusts (also known as family trusts or inter vivos trusts). The best way to pick a qualified, ethical attorney to handle these estate planning matters is to ask relatives, friends or trusted financial advisers for their recommendations.

These are decisions which should not be put off.

Contact Bruce at

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