If you own real estate or own your own business, a revocable living trust is likely your best option in estate planning. Whereas a last will and testament requires you to go through the probate courts to resolve your last affairs, a trust avoids any court involvement in your personal or business affairs.
When a person is incapacitated due to an accident, disease or mental illness, any interested person can implement a guardianship action and nominate a relative, friend, fiduciary or the public guardian to act as a guardian over the person. In some states this is referred to as a "conservatorship." In Nevada there are two types of guardian, the guardian over the person and the guardian over the estate. If necessary, one guardian can be over the person and the estate.
Starting a guardianship is not an simple process and it is recommended that you at least use the law firm to open up the guardianship. Once a guardian is appointed, the annual accountings and less significant matters can usually be handled by the guardian.
To start the process, the person who is incapacitated (the proposed Ward) is usually diagnosed as incapacitated by a physician or mental health professional. Depending upon the circumstances, a temporary guardianship can be imposed to avoid problems of an immediate nature, e.g., to avoid a mentally incapacitated person from harming themselves or the depletion of accounts by a person being exploited by another. The temporary guardianship lasts for only seven days, but is normally extended by the court by another thirty (30) days after the court has had an interim hearing to determine the need for the extension.
After about a month of notice, the court will hear the petition for permanent appointment of a guardian and will consider all persons who can serve as a guardian. There is a list of preferred persons, such as a spouse or child of the proposed Ward, however, upon proof, the court will consider eliminating such persons because of mental infirmity or prior exploitation of the proposed ward.
When a person dies, their debts need to be paid and their remaining assets distributed to others. Probate is the legal process through which this is accomplished. As probate typically requires significant knowledge of a large mix of highly complex legal issues (federal and state taxation, real estate, estate planning, competency, employee benefits, insurance, business operations, etc.), seasoned lawyers are typically retained by surviving family members to petition the court to begin the probate process.