By writing a will, you can explain your wishes regarding the distribution of your property after your death. If you die without making a will, you are said to be intestate and the state laws then provide for the disposal of your estate. Some individuals set up trusts in their wills, often to provide a legacy to children who are too young to receive a large bequest of money. Chapters 133 and 163 of the Nevada revised statutes (NRS) contain the legal provisions for wills and trusts made by residents of the state.
Executing a Will
According to NRS 133.020, any person may make a will, provided he is over 18 years of age and of sound mind. The writer of the will is known as the testator. NRS 133.040 provides that a will must be in writing and signed by the testator, in the presence of at least two witnesses. The witnesses must also sign the will.
Nevada allows its residents to make electronic wills, and the rules are set out in NRS 133.085. An electronic will is defined as being written, created and stored in an electronic record. It must be dated and contain the testator’s electronic signature, together with an authentication characteristic. The authentication characteristic is something that is unique to the individual and may be a fingerprint, a retinal scan, a digitized signature or voice recognition. A digitized signature is a graphical image of a written signature that is generated or stored electronically. To avoid doubt, only one authoritative copy of the will must exist. This authoritative copy should be maintained by either the testator or a designated custodian named in the will, such as a lawyer.
Testamentary and Living Trusts
A testamentary trust is created by a will and takes effect upon the death of the testator. A living trust is set up during the settlor’s lifetime and is often revocable. Both forms of trusts may operate to reduce tax liability.
Creating a Trust
In order to set up a trust, you need three distinct legal parties: the party who makes the trust (the settlor), the party who administers the trust (the trustee) and the party who benefits from the trust (the beneficiary). NRS 163.002 provides that any settlor may create a trust either during his lifetime or by means of a will, by transferring property to another person as trustee. The purpose of a trust may not be illegal or against public policy. The beneficiary need not be named, but must be ascertainable with reasonable certainty. For example, a settlor may create a trust for the benefit of his grandchildren.
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