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Leaders in Family Matters
Estate Planning

Reno Estate Planning Attorney

Protecting Your Family Now and in the Future

Creating a thorough estate plan affords people with the opportunity to determine their family’s future in the event of their death. An estate plan also determines an individual’s future if they become incapacitated. There are laws in Nevada that outline the requirements for valid estate planning documents. At Surratt Law Practice, we support our clients from before cradle to grave, and that includes the estate planning process.

Estate planning presents you with an overwhelming number of choices. That, combined with the complexities of the legal process, can place a heavy burden on you when you’re looking to protect your family’s future.

For a compassionate estate planning attorney who puts your family first, call Surratt Law Practice at: +1(775) 924-1306.

What Does an Estate Plan Include?

An estate plan helps you prevent unintended consequences from arising in the wake of your death or incapacitation. Drafting the right documents makes sure your voice is heard regarding medical care, distribution of assets, custody of dependent children, and decision-making power. An estate planning lawyer can help you create valid documents in accordance with Nevada law.

It is imperative to consider a variety of factors when drafting your estate plan. An estate planning attorney with Surratt Law Practice will help you dictate your decisions regarding power of attorney, health care or medical directives, Wills, Trusts, and beneficiary designations.


A will is a document that designates the distribution of a decedent’s assets to their beneficiaries. It also includes the designation of your desired beneficiaries. In addition to determining the distribution of assets, a comprehensive will allows you to designate your preferences regarding the custody of your surviving dependent children. An executor of your estate can be appointed in the will as well. This document is subject to probate, however, which allows it to be contested. Working with a will attorney in Nevada can help you ensure that your will follows the requirements of Nevada Law.


A trust is an arrangement that allows for the holding of assets on behalf of a designated beneficiary for a duration of time specified by you, the grantor. Trusts, unlike wills, become active upon the transfer of assets. A trust can be set to activate when a beneficiary, or trustee, reaches the age of majority or on an otherwise designated date. Alternatively, a trust can be set to activate upon death. A grantor may designate a trustee and provide instructions to manage the use of the assets provided within the trust. Our Nevada trust attorneys can help you determine what types of trusts are right for your assets.

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What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

While both wills and trusts are essential elements of managing assets and planning for the future, there are key differences that are important to understand when estate planning.


A will is a document that designates the distribution of assets upon your death. It can also include instructions for decision-making after your death, such as funeral or burial plans, custody of surviving dependent minors, and the appointment of an executor. Upon activation, a will must go through the process of probate. Probate opens your will to scrutiny by the courts. During probate, the courts will explore whether your requests are in alignment with Nevada law.


A trust, however, is more of an entity that holds assets, rather than a document that designates the handling of assets. Unlike wills, which are activated by death, trusts become active upon the transfer of assets, which can be set to occur during or after the grantor’s lifetime. Typically, a trust is established when assets or funds are to be distributed for a specific purpose. Trusts can have a limited term, and can be set to activate when a trustee reaches a certain age or an otherwise designated date.

A trust that is set to activate during a grantor’s lifetime is called a Living Trust. A trust that is set to activate after death is referred to as a testamentary trust, and can be established in a will.

What Is a Special Needs Trust?

A Special Needs Trust, or SNT, is a legal entity that holds assets on behalf of a person with a disability or illness in order to allow them to qualify for disability benefits provided through the government. These benefits typically include Medicaid, Medicare, and SSI or SSDI benefits. By creating a Special Needs Trust, you can provide an asset to a person without disrupting their ability to qualify for necessary benefits based on income or assets restrictions. Special Needs Trusts are irrevocable, meaning that they can not be altered once they are created and creditors cannot access funds designated to the beneficiary.

Navigating the Estate Planning Process

Estate planning at its core is simply the process of planning for the care of your loved ones after your death. When initiating the estate planning process, there are several key elements to consider. An estate planning attorney can help you decide which documents and designations are right for you, and guide you on how to communicate your desires in alignment with Nevada law. To initiate the process of drafting your estate plan, consider the following questions:

What assets do you have to distribute?

The first step in drafting your estate plan is to identify your assets. Having a clear understanding of your property and its value will help you determine how to divide and distribute your estate. This includes inventorying your tangible and intangible assets.

Tangible assets:

  • Real estate & properties owned
  • Collectible items
  • Vehicles
  • Other personal property

Intangible assets:

  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
  • Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and health savings accounts
  • Ownership in a business
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Need more information? We have resources available to answer any questions you may have

Legacy Wealth Planning

When designing an estate plan with high assets, it is important to consider how those assets will impact future generations of your family. Legacy wealth planning is creating a distinguished plan regarding how your assets will be managed during your lifetime and distributed after your death. Selecting charities or donation opportunities that reflect your family’s values, distributing assets through trusts to select beneficiaries, and making decisions regarding business entities are all a part of legacy wealth planning.

An estate planning lawyer can help you to manage your assets now and determine your family’s legacy in the future. Call Surratt Law Practice at: +1(775) 924-1306.

Hear From Our Happy Clients

  • He was so helpful and pleasant, as well as knowledgeable on the subject.
    - Stone
  • She cares for her clients and knows what she is doing. She is very knowledgable. Abby goes above and beyond her duties as an attorney and checks up on me frequently.
    - Sydney H.
  • Melissa was very nice to work with, she is down to earth, easy to talk to and explains all of the details in an easy to understand way and we had the whole process done in just two visits to the office. Highly recommend this company and Melissa.
    - Jamie P.
  • He is honest, understanding, involved, responsive, and sensitive during these difficult long years. In fact the whole team there is outstanding. They have become like family, and are always there when I need them and their legal advice.
    - Janette D.

Who Can Serve as an Executor in Nevada?

In Nevada, any person over the age of 18 without a felony conviction can be named the executor of your estate. An executor is the person you task with carrying out the designations made in your will. An executor has a variety of responsibilities following your death, including notifying relevant parties, locating important documents, collecting and inventorying your assets, collecting debts owed to your estate, initiating probate, paying claims against your estate, distributing assets to your beneficiaries, and closing your estate. Typically, an executor is a family member, close friend, or another loved one of the deceased. Acting as an executor is a time-consuming and detail-oriented task. In some cases, an attorney is tasked with assisting an executor in carrying out your designations in accordance with the law.

Updating Your Estate Plan as Life Changes

As life changes, it’s essential to regularly review and revise your estate plan. Significant changes such as divorce, childbirth, marriage, adoption, expanding your family, and the acquisition of new assets can cause a plan to become outdated. Continuously updating your beneficiaries and ensuring that all assets are recently evaluated and updated can ensure that the decisions you communicate to your loved ones after death or incapacitation are accurate.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust?
    A trust is a legal entity that is set up to manage an asset. A revocable trust is a trust that allows the terms to be changed at any time. This change can occur with or without the consent of the beneficiary. An irrevocable trust, on the other hand, can only be modified with beneficiary consent.
  • What is the difference between having a will and estate planning?

    An estate plan is broader than a will, and typically encompasses a will. An estate plan can include the management of assets before or after your death. Estate plans also include decisions you make about your care following incapacitation. Advance medical directives, trusts, burial or cremation plans, and financial or healthcare powers of attorney are all a part of estate planning that do not require a will. A will, on the other hand, only activates upon your death and includes postmortem asset distribution and decision-making.

  • What are the basics of an estate plan?

    The five primary components of an estate plan are power of attorney, health care or medical directives, Wills, Trusts, and beneficiary designations. In addition, a person planning their estate should consider who they would like to name as executor, plans they would like to make for the care of pets, and plans for the custody of dependent children. Including funeral and burial or cremation plans is also a common in an estate plan.

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