Trusts are legal documents that give the document holder that allows a third party to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries.

Wondering about an unmarried couple’s rights when one of them dies in Las Vegas? Here’s what to know and how an estate planning attorney can help.

Although Memorial Day just passed, it is important to honor those that have served our country. This time is also an opportunity for members of the military and their loved ones to consider setting up an – or revising an existing – estate plan. Military families need to consider special estate-planning issues that others do not. This is particularly true when one or more family members are deployed overseas. Beyond this, members of the military have access to special benefits and resources. This can become complicated and, for this reason, it’s important to seek specialized help if you are a military family. Whether you are just starting in the military or a seasoned veteran, below are some common factors to consider for your estate planning needs.

Important Factors to Consider 

Everyone’s estate plan should be customized to the person’s particular circumstances. Some factors that should be considered include whether you:
  • Own real property and, if so, if the real estate is located in different states;
  • Are married;
  • Have minor children, or children with special needs;
  • Have money set aside in 401(k), IRAs, or thrift savings plans;
  • Plan to give to charity; and
  • Are moving multiple times across states or to different countries.

Estate Planning Necessities 

There are many benefits offered to military families that can help with estate planning. These include:

Life Insurance

An important part of an estate plan and intended for those who are financially dependent upon you, life insurance is especially important if a member of the military is heading out to a combat zone. Active-duty members have access to low-cost life insurance for themselves and loved ones from Service Members’ Life Insurance Group. More information can be found on the Department of Veterans Affairs website. When examining your life insurance, work with us to make sure that the beneficiary designation works the way you expect it to.

Wills and Trusts

A last will and testament to whom and how you want your property distributed, names who will administer your estate and specifies who will care for a minor or special needs child. A trust, on the other hand, is a separate legal entity that can hold property and assets for the benefit of one or more people or entities. For most families, a trust-centered estate plan is a better fit, but a will can work for some families.

Other Benefits for Survivors

Survivor benefit plans (SBP) are pension-type plans in the form of an annuity that will pay your surviving spouse and children a monthly benefit. Likewise, dependency and indemnity compensation (D&IC) provides a monthly benefit to eligible survivors of service members or veterans (1) who die while on active duty, (2) whose death is due to a service-related disease or injury or (3) who are receiving or entitled to receive VA compensation for service-related disability and are totally disabled. When you are examining any financial services or insurance product, it’s a good idea to work with us to make sure any beneficiary designations work the way you expect and provide the maximum benefit to your family.

You Need Specialized Help 

Members of the military often experience frequent moves, have access to lots of government benefits after service, and can be subject to some unusual tax rules. For these reasons, estate planning for military families is more complicated than most. You can expect an estate planning professional to assist you with setting up the following:
  • Powers of attorney for limited and general financial matters, as well as health care decisions (very helpful when a spouse is deployed);
  • Funeral and burial arrangements;
  • Wills and living wills;
  • Organ donation;
  • Family care plans;
  • Life insurance;
  • Trusts;
  • Estate taxes;
  • Survivor benefits;
  • Estate administration and/or probate.
An estate plan has multiple objectives: to provide for your family’s financial security, ensure your property is preserved and passed on to your beneficiaries, and determine who will manage your assets upon your death, among others. As a former United States Marine, I am here to help guide you through the best options available to you and your family. Contact us to start creating an estate plan today!
Irrevocable trusts in Las Vegas

Did you know that irrevocable trusts can be modified? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. The name lends itself to that very belief. However, the truth is that changes in the law, family, trustees, and finances sometimes frustrate the trust-maker’s original intent. Or, sometimes, an error in the trust document itself is identified. When this happens, it’s wise to consider trust modification, even if that trust is irrevocable. It’s important to know when to modify an irrevocable trust.

 3 Reasons You Should Modify an Irrevocable Trust

Here are three examples of when an irrevocable trust can, and should, be modified or terminated:

1. The Tax Law Changed

Adam created an irrevocable trust in 1980 which held a life insurance policy excluding proceeds from his estate for federal estate tax purposes.  Today, the federal estate tax exemption has significantly increased making the trust unnecessary. 

2. Your Family Circumstances Changed

Barbara created an irrevocable trust for her grandchild, Christine. Now an adult, Christine suffers from a disability and would benefit from government assistance. Barbara’s trust would disqualify Christine from receiving that assistance.

3. An Error Was Discovered 

As part of his estate planning, David Sr. created an irrevocable trust to provide for his numerous children and grandchildren. However, after the trust was created, his son (David Jr.) discovered that his son (David III) had been mistakenly omitted from the document. 


Are You Sure Your Irrevocable Trust Is Current?

If you’re not sure an irrevocable trust is still a good fit or if you wonder whether you can receive more benefits from a trust, we’ll analyze the trust. Perhaps irrevocable trust modification or termination is a good option. Making that determination simply requires a conversation and a look at the document itself. Please call our office now to schedule a chat. We are here to help you with when to modify an irrevocable trust.

Life has too many “what-ifs” to be able to plan for every conceivable situation you might encounter. In spite of this, it’s still possible to create an effective estate plan that will not only anticipate your death and/or disability but do so in a way that will enable those you love to focus on your legacy, rather than your estate plan. Check out these 10 estate planning tips!

10 Estate Planning Tips For Creating an Effective Estate Plan

  • Get A Financial Power Of Attorney
    • Give the power of attorney over your financial matters to someone you trust. This person should also have the education or life experience to make sound financial decisions on your behalf, in the event you become incapacitated.
  • Find A Healthcare Power Of Attorney
    • For most of your life, you are far more likely to be temporarily incapacitated or disabled than you are to die. For this reason, a comprehensive estate plan will give the power of attorney to someone for health care decisions. It is a very good idea to give someone the power to act on your behalf in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
  •  Do A Regular Inventory and Correctly Title Your Assets
    • You have spent your whole life, up to this point, working to acquire assets that will support you, and possibly your children after you die. Regularly inventory and carefully title your various assets. Designate beneficiaries for your annuities, insurance policies, and retirement plans. You should bear in mind that anyone whose name appears on the title of an account, policy, or retirement plan will have the authority to access and use the funds on your behalf.
  • Have a Will In Place
    • Have a legal will prepared that properly disposes of your assets. A will can also nominate legal guardians for your children to provide for their care, upbringing, and education in addition to managing their inheritance.
  • Take Advantage of Protections From Creditors
    • Take advantage of protections that are available, as a matter of right, by law to protect certain basic property rights. For example, some assets (e.g., 401(k)s, most IRAs, and your primary residence) are protected by state law; therefore, they can’t be taken by a general creditor to satisfy your obligations.


Estate Planning Tips Continued…

  • Use Revocable Living Trusts
    • Use trusts to hold assets and settle your estate. A trust is an effective way to avoid the probate process that can be lengthy and needlessly expensive. Most people should eventually use a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of their estate plan.
  • Understand Irrevocable Trusts
    • Instead of leaving inheritances directly for your children, use an irrevocable trust. This can help you avoid claims against the inheritance from debts, divorce, disability, and destructive spending habits. In addition, there are dozens of purposes for irrevocable trusts created for favorable income, estate, and gift tax results and, when used correctly, protection of assets.
  • Seek The Help of Financial Advisors
    • Seek professional advice from attorneys, bankers, financial planners, and insurance brokers as you see fit. It’s never too early to start planning for your financial future. In order to be a good steward of your assets, find a good financial advisor with the help of family and friends, and trusted professionals.
  • Periodically Review and Revise
    • Effective estate planning is a lifelong activity. Tragedy could strike at any time. As we have seen, laws, your family circumstances, and the makeup of your own wealth will change over time. It is critical to review and update your estate plan on a regular basis to ensure that the best possible protections are being utilized.
  • Take Time To Ponder
    • Family dynamics change all of the time and in lots of different ways. Think of charitable causes you are committed to or care about. Charitable giving is one tool an effective estate planner has in the tool belt to reduce or eliminate taxes that the estate, or loved ones, will have to pay when you die. Financial circumstances can change rapidly. Your legacy will reflect the time and thought you have invested in creating and maintaining your estate plan.

Use These 10 Estate Planning Tips To Get Started

An estate plan that is out of date, can be just as harmful as not having one at all. It is essential to maintain your estate plan so your legacy, and not estate planning deficiencies are what will be remembered. If you regularly follow the above ten timeless tips above, your estate plan will remain healthy and effective to accomplish what it was created for.

Contact the attorneys at Williams Starbuck to help you with your Estate Planning needs today!

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.

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.

Estate planning is the process of developing a strategy for the care and management of your estate if you become incapacitated or upon your death. One commonly known purpose of estate planning in Las Vegas is to minimize taxes and costs, including taxes imposed on gifts, estates, generation-skipping transfer, and probate court costs.

However, your plan must also name someone who will make medical and financial decisions for you if you cannot make decisions for yourself. You also need to consider how to leave your property and assets while considering your family’s circumstances and needs.

Since your family’s needs and circumstances are constantly changing, so too must your estate plan. Your plan must be updated when certain life changes occur.

These include, but are not limited to: marriage, the birth or adoption of a new family member, divorce, the death of a loved one, a significant change in assets, and a move to a new state or country.


It is not uncommon for estate planning to be the last item on the list when a couple is about to be married. Whether it’s for the first time or not. On the contrary, marriage is an essential time to update an estate plan. You probably have already thought about updating emergency contacts and adding your spouse to existing health and insurance policies.

There is another important reason to update an estate plan upon marriage. In the event of death, your money and assets may not automatically go to your spouse, especially if you have children of a prior marriage, a prenuptial agreement, or if your assets are jointly owned with someone else (like a sibling, parent, or other family members). A comprehensive estate review can ensure you and your new spouse can rest easy.

Birth or Adoption of Children or Grandchildren

When a new baby arrives, it seems like everything changes – and so should your estate plan. For example, your trust may not “automatically” include your new child, depending on how it is written. So, it is always a good idea to check and add the new child as a beneficiary.

As the children (or grandchildren) grow in age, your estate plan should adjust to ensure assets are distributed in a way that you deem proper. What seems like a good idea when your son or granddaughter is a four-year-old may no longer look like a good idea once their personality has developed and you know them as a 25-year-old college graduate, for example.



Some state and federal laws may remove a former spouse from an inheritance after the couple splits. However, this is not always the case, and it certainly should not be relied on as the foundation of your plan. After a divorce, you should immediately update beneficiary designations for all insurance policies and retirement accounts, any powers of attorney, and any existing health care proxy and HIPAA authorizations. It is also a good time to revamp your will and trust to make sure it does what you want (and likely leaves out your former spouse).

The Death of a Loved One

Sometimes those who are named in your estate plan pass away. If an appointed guardian of your children dies, it is imperative to designate a new person. Likewise, if your chosen executor, health care proxy, or designated power of attorney dies, new ones should be named right away.

Significant Change in Assets

Whether it is a sudden salary increase, inheritance, or the purchase of a large asset these scenarios should prompt an adjustment in an existing estate plan. The bigger the estate, the more likely there will be issues over the disposition of the assets after you are gone. For this reason, it is best to see what changes, if any, are needed after a significant increase (or decrease) in your assets.

A Move to a New State or Country

For most individuals, it is a good idea to obtain a new set of estate planning documents that clearly meet the new state’s legal requirements. Estate planning for Americans living abroad or those who have assets located in numerous countries is even more complicated and requires professional assistance.

It is always a good idea to learn what you need to do to completely protect yourself and your family when you move to a new state or country.

Get Protected Today

We are here to help you get fully settled in and build a plan to protect you and your family. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Why Incapacity Planning for Business Owners is an Indispensable Component of Your Plan

Most business owners have their estate planning prepared because they are worried about what will happen to their business after they are dead.  However, proper estate planning has the added benefit of allowing you to make plans for what will happen if you are incapacitated or needing to be away from your business for an extended period of time.

As the owner, you are responsible for the day-to-day operations of your business. This is a full-time responsibility. But what will happen if you can’t be there all the time? You don’t necessarily have to be in a coma to be unable to participate in your business. You could be on an extended vacation or have a medical diagnosis that requires you to take several months away for treatment or recovery. During this time, your business needs to continue on so that you and your employees can continue to take home money.


You Want To Leave Your Business As A Benefit Not A Burden

It is important to think ahead about who will be in charge of the day-to-day operations because a ship without a captain can be dangerous. Not only does this individual need to understand the business, but he or she also needs to have the respect of your employees, and be confident in making tough decisions in your absence. Without this planning, everyone could jump to the conclusion that he or she is in charge, or alternatively, no one will step up, resulting in chaos either way.

If you have family members working in your business it is also important to explain to them what will happen in your absence and who will be in charge so that someone does not assume they are in charge just because they are family. Importantly, remember that just because your family is involved with your business does not mean that he or she is the best choice to succeed you.

We can help you develop a plan to keep your business running while you are away. From choosing the right individual to putting processes in place for your incapacity, we are here to help.  Call us at 1-720-660-9847 to schedule a free consultation.