There are many complex legal requirements associated with being a trustee or administering an estate. We help our clients create an estate plan where they can handle the affairs of an estate without major challenges.

You put a lot of work into building your business, but what will happen to it after you die? That all depends on how you set up your estate. Good estate planning will preserve your assets and Las Vegas business when you die and transfer everything to your chosen beneficiaries. Here are some options for protecting your business and the consequences if you don’t make the proper arrangements.

How Can You Protect Your Las Vegas Business And Beneficiaries?

The best way to protect your business and beneficiaries after your death is to work with an estate attorney to include plans for your business in your will. But what kind of arrangements should you make? Your attorney can help you decide on a strategy that fits your exact circumstances and desires. But here are a few routes Las Vegas business owners can consider:

  • Create a living trust that transfers ownership of your business to a trusted successor. This option keeps your business out of probate and minimizes your estate’s tax burden. 
  • Form a partnership with the person you want to take over your business. Make your desired successor a partner and make a buy-sell agreement that lists events (such as your death) that would trigger a sale of your shares to your partner.  
  • If you have a small business, you might be able to pass on your business to a trusted successor and avoid a tax penalty by simply gifting it to them. However, gifting must happen when you are still alive and ready to hand the business over. 


What Happens To Your Las Vegas Business When You Die Without A Will?

So what happens to your Las Vegas business if you die without a will? That depends on your business structure. Without specifying what happens to your business after death may open your family to civil litigation, but in general here is what could happen:

  • If you own a sole proprietorship, your business will end with your passing, and all assets will go towards satisfying debts. Then your next of kin receive leftover assets.
  • For an LLC, your operating agreement should include what happens to the business after your passing, such as who will take over for you. If there is no will, your business shares usually pass to your next of kin.  
  • Ideally, in partnerships, you already have a signed agreement for what happens to the business if a partner dies. But if a partner passes without such an agreement, intestacy law gives that partner’s business shares to their next of kin.
  • Corporations usually have several shareholders to keep a business running if an individual passes away. However, if you are the only shareholder and die without a will, your estate becomes the “owner,” and stocks will be distributed according to intestacy laws. 

In the absence of a will, your loved ones will have to navigate the often confusing probate process. Part of that means settling any business debts. If the debts exceed your assets, this can create a heavy burden for grieving loved ones. Then how your family uses your assets to pay off debts can also cause contention with your business partners and destroy what’s left of the business. Speaking to an estate planning attorney as soon as your business becomes profitable can prevent these problems.

Talk To Williams Starbuck About Las Vegas Business Estate Planning

If you’re a Las Vegas business owner who hasn’t started estate planning, take your first steps today by calling the estate attorneys at Williams Starbuck. Call us at 1-720-660-9847 or send us a message for a free consultation.

Many Las Vegas residents feel overwhelmed by the process of estate planning because it encompasses so many things. Breaking everything down into individual steps can make the task less daunting. Use this Las Vegas estate planning checklist to organize your estate planning and make it much more manageable.

1.) Find A Las Vegas Estate Planning Attorney

If there’s one person who doesn’t feel overwhelmed by issues like wills and probate, it’s an experienced attorney. Choose an attorney to help you tailor your Las Vegas estate planning checklist to your specific circumstances and answer all of your questions. 

2.) Identify Physical Assets

Physical assets include tangible valuables that you want to bequeath to others, like motor vehicles, real estate, or jewelry. For estate planning, you should 

  • Make an inventory of your assets and their values.
  • Note to whom you want to bequeath each item.
  • Put all titles and deeds in a safety depository box or home safe.
  • List whom you want sentimental or less valuable items to go to.

3.) Identify Non-Physical Assets

Your non-physical assets are financial accounts and policies like bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement plans, and life insurance policies. Take these steps to ensure your money goes to the right beneficiaries:

  • List your non-physical assets, including account numbers and financial institutions or insurance companies. 
  • Review retirement accounts and insurance policies and update the beneficiaries if needed.
  • Put pertinent documents for your accounts and policies in a safe deposit box or home safe.
  • List your beneficiaries for each account and policy, including any organizations or charities to which you would like to donate.
  • Consider setting up a transfer on death designation for qualifying financial accounts. 
  • Consider consolidating retirement or investment accounts to simplify your finances. 


4.) Identify Your Debts

Any debt you leave behind will come out of your estate before your heirs inherit anything, so identifying and settling them now will make the probate process easier later. 

  • List your debts, such as credit cards, mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and other loans. Include account numbers and institution or company names. 
  • Invest in disability and life insurance if you don’t have them already. 
  • Make a plan to pay off debts and preserve more of your estate. 

5.) Draft A Last Will And Testament

A will records your wishes for the distribution of your assets and care of any dependents. Draft yours with the aid of an attorney to ensure it will hold up in probate court. 

  • Make an appointment to draft your will with your attorney. Your Las Vegas estate planning checklist will help you prepare. 
  • Select a trustworthy estate administrator.
  • Appoint a guardian for minor children, if applicable. 
  • Ask your attorney if a living trust is right for your estate.
  • Sign your completed will in the presence of two witnesses. They must sign too. 
  • Have your will notarized. 
  • Place your will document in a safe place and give a copy to your estate executor. 

6.) Consider A Power Of Attorney 

A power of attorney authorizes a trusted agent to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Your Las Vegas estate planning attorney can help you navigate setting up different kinds of power of attorney. 

  • Set up your financial power of attorney.
  • Set up a health care power of attorney. 
  • Create a living will for your end-of-life care plan.

Complete Your Las Vegas Estate Planning Checklist With The Attorneys Of Williams Starbuck

When you begin your estate planning, call Williams Starbuck Attorneys at Law first. We’ll guide you through every step and give you legal strategies for protecting your property and loved ones. Call us at 1-720-660-9847 or send us a message for a free consultation. 

What Is Military Will and Estate Planning

In many ways, creating a customized estate plan for a single, or married member of the active duty or reserve branches of the United States military, can be similar to creating a will, trust, or estate plan for wealthy and non-military individuals or families. However, when it comes to military personnel, there are considerations that are unique to members of the military that must be accounted for and planned for.

When developing a military estate plan keep in mind and take an inventory of everything that is personally owned.  This can include property, a car, and even a savings account.  Once the assets have been identified, we can then help you answer questions such as:

  • What happens to my property?
  • Who will oversee my finances?
  • How will my family be affected financially?


Why Williams Starbuck Can Help You With Military Will and Estate Planning in Las Vegas

Because of my service in the United States Marine Corps Reserves, I am both familiar with the considerations that are distinctive to military members, and able to relate to you and your situation while we work together to ensure your estate plan is properly set up, and all aspects and scenarios are contemplated and planned for. 

In cases where you own a home, have investments, or your estate consists of other classes of assets, the base legal office may not be able to adequately assist you with the proper tools and documents you need to ensure that your estate avoids probate, and seamlessly transitions to your loved ones.

Contact Williams Starbuck For More Information About Military Will and Estate Planning

If you are a member of any branch of the United States Military, on active duty, or on reserve and you have questions regarding asset protection or other estate planning matters and how they might affect you, call us at 1-720-660-9847 or send us a message for a free consultation.

There are several parts to creating an estate plan in Las Vegas, one of them being a living trust. Common factors that prompt someone to create a trust include privacy, tax benefits, avoiding probate, and caring for family members with special needs. Estate planning also lets you dictate how your assets will pass on to future generations after your death. See below for some key suggestions on how a living trust can help your family.

Avoiding Probate

One of the primary reasons for creating an estate plan is to avoid probate. Unlike a will, a fully funded living trust will avoid probate, typically a lengthy and costly court-supervised process. Probate includes locating and determining the value of the deceased’s assets, paying off any outstanding bills and taxes, and then distributing the remaining value of the estate to the deceased’s rightful beneficiaries or heirs.

Avoiding probate is often a top reason for estate planning, and there is no surprise as to why. First, probate can be a costly way to transfer your assets upon death. Second, it is very time-consuming for your family. It can take from six to nine months (or even longer) to complete the probate process. Complications, such as a contested will or an inability to find clear records of all of the deceased’s assets and debts, can extend this timeline. Finally, probate proceedings are a matter of public record so when your estate goes through this process, there is no privacy.

Reducing Taxes

While a living trust can help you avoid probate, it can also provide you with tax savings, especially if your estate is subject to death taxes (also known as estate and gift taxes). Of course, there are many types of trusts. One way to think about the variety is to consider a toolbox. For example, there are numerous kinds of screwdrivers, hammers, power tools, and so on. Each tool has an intended use. Trusts are no different. When you work with us, we’ll make sure to align the type of trust with the tax-saving needs and other goals of your family.

Seek Professional Help

It is important to understand that a trust only controls assets that are in the trust. In other words, you must place these assets in the trust – commonly referred to as “funding” the trust. Moreover, because our lives are always changing (marriage, childbirth, home purchase, etc.) and so are tax laws, it is essential to continually update and monitor the funding of your trust over your lifetime.

For these reasons, you will want to work closely with your estate planning attorney to make sure your assets are properly aligned with your trust. This will not only help you get organized, but it will also make things easier for your heirs when you pass away. You don’t have to go it alone. We are here to help you and your family. Call us at 1-720-660-9847 today to learn more about how a living trust can help your family.

A resume is a “snapshot” of your experience, skill set, and education which provides prospective employers insight into who you are and how you will perform. Imagine not updating that resume for 5, 10, or even 15 years. Would it accurately reflect who you are? Would it do what you want it to do? Likely not. Estate planning in Las Vegas is similar in that they need to be updated on a regular basis to reflect changes in your life so they can do what you want them to do.

Outdated estate plans – like outdated resumes – simply don’t work.

Take a Moment to Reflect

Think back for a moment – think of all the changes in your life. What’s changed since you signed your will, trust, and other estate planning documents? If something has changed that affects you, your trusted helpers, or your beneficiaries, your estate plan probably needs to reflect that change.

Here are examples of changes that are significant enough to warrant an estate plan review and, likely, updates:

  • Birth
  • Adoption
  • Marriage
  • Divorce or separation
  • Death
  • Addictions
  • Incapacity/disability
  • Health challenges
  • Financial status changes – good or bad
  • Tax law changes
  • Move to a new state
  • Family circumstances changes – good or bad
  • Business circumstances changes – good or bad


Call us at 1-720-660-9847 to get your estate planning review on the calendar. If you’re like most people, if it’s on the calendar, you’ll make it happen.

Just as you update your resume on a regular basis and just like you meet with the doctor, dentist, CPA, or financial advisor on a regular basis, you need to meet with us on a regular basis as well.

We’ll make sure your estate plan reflects your current needs and those of the people you love. Updating is the best way to make sure your estate plan will actually do what you want it to do.

Not surprisingly, most people loathe reviewing their estate plan because it can be both confusing and daunting. Others do not want to think about death and avoid the topic altogether. If you have already put an estate plan together using an estate planning attorney in Las Vegas, you are ahead of the curve as many people do not have one.

If you do not yet have an estate plan, there is no better time than now to sit down and get one in place. In either scenario, below are five common estate planning mistakes and how to fix them so that you are fully protecting your family.

Mistake 1: You Have Not Updated Your Plan

Many people consider estate planning a “one and done” proposition. This could not be further from the truth. Life happens. This may include adding new beneficiaries due to the birth of children or grandchildren, or removing beneficiaries due to a change in circumstances. Your family’s needs will almost certainly have changed over the years since you first created your estate plan.

Likewise, your executor – the person who will be in charge of your assets in the event of your untimely death – may have passed away or may no longer be able to serve. For these reasons, it is key to keep your beneficiaries and successor executors current.

Mistake 2: Your Plan is Missing Key Components

While you may already have an estate plan in place, it may not be comprehensive enough to fully protect your loved ones after you have passed. At a minimum, everyone should have a last will and testament, a financial power of attorney, and a health care directive. These documents should have been reviewed by a knowledgeable estate plan attorney within the last 5 years and immediately after any major life event, such as a marriage, divorce, birth or death of a child, receiving an inheritance, or significant increase or decrease in assets.

With these life changes, the level of protection you need may have also changed. Relying on an old strategy may leave you and your loved ones vulnerable.

Mistake 3: You Have Not Kept Up with Changes in Tax Laws

In the past twenty years, the estate tax exemption has increased by fifteen times. If you have significant wealth, you need to make sure your estate plan takes advantage of unique planning opportunities under current law. This is because an outdated estate plan structure that has not kept up with current tax law can actually do more harm than good for your loved ones, since it may needlessly cause taxes to be paid. Accordingly, a qualified estate planning attorney who fully understands your circumstances should review your documents and make any necessary adjustments.

Mistake 4: You Moved Without Updating Your Estate Documents

It is important to understand that each state has different laws that govern estate planning. For this reason, if you move from one state to another it is vital that you have a local estate planning attorney review and revise your documents. You want to make certain your plan is compliant with the laws in the state in which you primarily reside. This also applies to medical powers of attorney or advance directives that may be valid in your old state but ruled invalid in your new state, depending on the local law.

Mistake 5: You Failed to Focus on Life Insurance and Retirement Accounts

One common mistake is for individuals to fail to review life insurance policies after they were originally issued. Neglected policies may not be properly funded, resulting in a lapse in coverage and requiring hefty premiums to keep the policy in force. Likewise, it is important to take advantage of listing beneficiaries on retirement accounts rather than leaving them to your estate.

When a beneficiary is listed, these assets avoid probate – the long and expensive legal process of distributing your assets upon your death through court supervision – and allow beneficiaries to keep the majority of these funds in tax-advantaged accounts.

We’re Here to Help

Without proper maintenance and administration, your carefully put-together estate plan may not work as you intend. Instead of allowing this to happen, call us at 1-720-660-9847, so we can begin reviewing your estate plan to make sure all of your bases are covered and any needed changes are made.

You’ve finally decided it’s time to meet with an estate planning attorney in Las Vegas and get your affairs in order. OK, great! It’s time to make sure your family is protected. It’s important to know how to prepare for a meeting with your estate planning attorney.

Now that you’ve scheduled the first appointment, what’s the next step?

You can do one of two things:

  • Simply wait for the meeting date to arrive
  • Get yourself organized and prepared for the first meeting.

We recommend doing the second. Here’s how:

Before You Meet With Your Attorney

Taking the time to sort through your important papers and get your thoughts in order will go a long way to making the meeting productive and valuable.  Otherwise, the meeting will become a fishing expedition for your attorney and both tedious and confusing for you.

Here are 3 ways to get yourself organized and prepared for your first meeting:

Make a complete list of your assets and liabilities

  • List what you own (e.g., bank accounts, investment accounts, real estate, retirement accounts, and life insurance). Fortunately, you do not need to make a list of your personal property.
  • Jot down how you own it (e.g., in your sole name or in joint names with your spouse or someone else such as a child or sibling).
  • Indicate whether you have already designated a beneficiary for the account or policy.
  • Record how much you owe (e.g., mortgages, car loans and credit cards).

Think about who you want to inherit your estate, when they’ll inherit it, and how they’ll inherit it

There are many ways to pass your property to beneficiaries, including outright, in stages (such as after college or after getting married), at specific ages, or in lifetime discretionary trusts.

It’s wise to consider the advice of your attorney, but, at the very least, think about each beneficiary’s current needs and what they may need in the future.

Think about who you want to be in charge if you become incapacitated or die

Along with naming Guardians for your minor children, deciding who will serve as your fiduciaries (including the Executor of your Will, Successor Trustee of your Trust, Attorney in Fact of your Power of Attorney, and Health Care Agent in your Medical Directive) is, by far, the most important decision you will need to make.

Why?  Because if you choose the wrong person for the job, or if someone you choose declines to serve or can’t serve, the estate plan that you have so carefully put together will come to a grinding halt.

If you’re like most people, you’ll need the advice of your attorney to choose the right people or institutions to serve as your fiduciaries, but think about which family members or friends will be good candidates – and which will not.

Ready to Meet With Your Attorney?

It’s a lot to think about and organize, but it will be well worth it.  Call us at 1-720-660-9847 if you have any questions on how to prepare for a meeting with your estate planning attorney. We are here to help every step of the way.

Your children are your pride and joy. It’s no surprise that at some point or another, every parent likely becomes concerned about who will care for a minor child or children if one or both parents die or are incapacitated. From a financial perspective, many parents turn to life insurance in an effort to take care of their family in the event of death. While it is true that life insurance is a helpful financial tool to protect your loved ones, it is just as important to consider how to leave your assets to your minor children. Beyond this, you should also consider how to incorporate your retirement money (IRAs and 401(k)s), another common, significant asset into your overall estate plan.

When you purchase life insurance, you will name a beneficiary of the death benefits and retirement accounts. But, if you don’t have a system in place and your children are minors at the time they inherit these assets, the court will appoint a property guardian or a conservator (the title depends on state law, but the role of this person is to “watch over” a minor person’s money). This process will require attorneys’ fees, court proceedings, supervision from the court, and will limit investment options — all costs and delays that will not help your children, but can cost them a significant percentage of their inheritance.

Another downside? Whatever’s left when the child becomes an adult (usually age 18, but may be, 19 or 21, in some states) will be handed over, without any guidance. This can impact college financial aid opportunities and open up an opportunity for irresponsible spending.


How To Leave Assets?

 There are several ways in which you can structure your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and overall estate plan to benefit your minor children in the most streamlined way possible.

1. First, use a children’s trust to manage the money for the benefit of your children.

This lets you designate someone you think will manage the assets well, rather than leaving it to the whims of the court. You will want to do this instead of naming minor children as beneficiaries.

2. Second, select and name a guardian to handle the day-to-day care for your children.

This person can be different than the person managing in the money, which can sometimes work well depending on the amounts involved and the different skill sets needed to manage money versus raise children.

3. Third, if you have a living trust, make sure you have properly funded the trust and aligned your retirement assets with the plan.

If you do not yet have a trust, consider the benefits of one over will-based planning.  Both types of plans will allow you to designate how much and when your children will receive the money, but a trustbased plan will allow you to do so without court involvement.

Benefits of a Trust

Generally, parents list a minor child as the secondary or contingent beneficiary on life insurance and retirement accounts after first naming the surviving spouse as a primary beneficiary. This may work, as long as everyone dies in the “right” order and at the “right” time. But, it’s a gamble, and providing structure through a trust for these inheritances is a better option. Unlike guardianship or custodian accounts, where the proceeds must be handed over once the minor(s) turns a certain age, you can specify at which age your child receives the assets. This allows you to designate how the money is to be used, so it will be available for important life events while protecting your children from reckless spending. Ultimately you have more control with a trust, and your customized plan will provide the best protection for your family.

If you have any questions about how to leave assets to your minor children — whether it is a life insurance policy, a retirement account, or any other asset — call us at 1-720-660-9847. A legal professional can explain the options available to your family, determine what tax implications will result, and advise you on the best structure that will protect your family’s needs.

While the term fiduciary is a legal term with a rich history, it very generally means someone who is legally obligated to act in another person’s best interests. Trustees, executors, and agents are all examples of fiduciaries. You first will pick a trustee, executor, and agent under a power of attorney when you create your estate plan in Las Vegas.

When you do this, you’re picking one or more people to make decisions in your and your beneficiaries’ best interests and in accordance with the instructions you leave. Luckily, understanding the basics of what each of these terms means and what to consider when making your choices can make your estate plan work far better.


A revocable living trust is often the center of a well-designed estate plan because it is simply the best strategy for achieving most individuals’ goals. In many revocable living trusts, you will serve as the initial trustee and will continue to manage the trust assets as you had in the past.

Your successor trustee will be responsible for making sure your wealth is passed on and managed in accordance with your wishes after your death or during your incapacity. Like each of the following individuals involved in your estate planning, it’s best to have a trusted person or financial institution carry out this vitally important role.

It’s important to make the language in your trust as clear as possible so that your trustee knows exactly how to handle various situations that can arise is asset distribution. Lastly, your trustee will only control the assets contained within the trust — not the rest of your estate, the reason why completely funding your living trust is crucial.

Powers of Attorney

Your power of attorney is the document in your estate plan that appoints individuals to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself. There are a few different types of powers of attorney, each with their own specific provisions. There is quite a wide range of situations covered by various powers of attorney, and we can help you decide which types you’ll need based on your current situation and future goals. Here are two common types to cover in your estate plan:

Financial Powers of Attorney

Financial powers of attorney grant individuals the ability to take financial actions on your behalf such as purchasing life insurance or withdrawing money from your accounts to cover your expenses. A person who acts under the authority given in a power of attorney is generally called an agent. Regarding financial decisions, an institution like a trust company, can also be named. Keep in mind that trust companies will charge a fee for this service.

Health Care Powers of Attorney

Health care powers of attorney cover a wide range of specific actions that can be taken regarding an individual’s medical needs such as making decisions about the types of care you receive or who will be providing the care.


Your executor is the person who will see your assets through probate, if necessary, and carry out your wishes based on your last will and testament. Depending on your preferences, this may be the same person or institution as your trustee. You might also see this position designated as personal representative, but it means the same thing.

Some individuals chose to go with a paid executor. This is usually someone who doesn’t stand to gain anything from your will, and is often the best choice if your estate is large and will be divided among many beneficiaries. Of course, family or friends can also serve, but it’s important to consider the amount of work involved before placing this burden on your family or friends.

Being an executor can be hard work and may have court-ordered deadlines, so it’s crucial to pick someone you know will be up for the job. They will probably need to hire a CPA to help sort out your taxes and a lawyer to assist in the process. Of course, if there’s a dispute, attorneys, appraisers, mediators, or other professionals will undoubtedly need to be involved.

Choosing a spouse or someone else intimately involved in your life can be convenient because they may already be familiar with your assets and have an easier time making sure your wishes are carried out.  However, because of the time involved and the nature of some assets, they may not be up to the task at the time.


Get in Touch With Us Today

Let us help you make the process of how you pick your trustee, executor, and agent under a power of attorney as smooth as possible. Once you have these choices in place, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your estate plan is in good hands no matter what life brings.  Call us at 1-720-660-9847  to make an appointment today.

You don’t need to have a summer house in the Hamptons or a private art collection big enough to rival MOMA to consider yourself the owner of an estate. In fact, virtually anyone who owns anything has an “estate” in the eyes of the law. Although the term may conjure images of expansive country properties, expensive cars, or other symbols of high wealth, for the purposes of estate planning law, the term “estate” covers a whole lot more.

If you are thinking “do I really need an estate plan?, then you would benefit from talking with my team as an estate-planning attorney in Las Vegas.

What Constitutes as an Estate?

Ordinary possessions like homes, jewelry collections, bank accounts, cars, furniture — basically anything you can own — are also under the purview of your estate, meaning estate planning is something that profoundly impacts virtually everyone, not just the “country club” crowd.

So even if you wouldn’t ordinarily consider yourself the owner of an estate, it’s quite likely that you are. The answer to the question “I don’t have an estate. Do I really need an estate plan?” is, “Yes, virtually everyone who owns property could benefit from estate planning.” And estate planning covers more than just property, too: It’s also about ensuring someone you trust can make critical medical decisions for you if you’re unable to do so.


4 Key Advantages of Estate Planning

Estate planning may seem overwhelming.  But you don’t have to do it alone. We know what it takes to create a comprehensive estate plan tailored to your exact needs.

Here are the core tenets of what’s involved in estate planning and how you stand to benefit from the process:

  1. Allows you to remain in complete control of your property while you’re still alive and well.
  2. Helps you provide for yourself and your loved ones if you become incapacitated or disabled – without expensive and distracting court hearings.
  3. Minimizes the impact of professional fees, court costs, and taxes.
  4. Provides a framework so you can give what you have to whom you want, the way you want when you want.

Sit Down With an Attorney Today

Are you ready to sit down with a qualified estate planning attorney to see how you can ensure a better future for yourself and your family? There’s no time to waste — the sooner you take stock of your estate and get critical documents like wills and trusts completed, the better. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.