What is Probate?

A Nevada probate is the legal process of transferring assets that takes place after someone dies without a trust or proper estate planning. Probate is the court’s “transfer” of assets from the deceased to the living. The process is public, it can be simple or complex, depending on the circumstances, and usually costs more money than drafting a trust. More importantly, probate comes at a time when the family is grieving the loss of a loved one; having to engage in a court process with deadlines, complex filings, and in-person hearings is something we want to avoid.

If a person who died only had a will, the will must be filed with the probate court in the county where they lived. The court will review the will and determine if it is valid. If the will is valid, the court will appoint an executor, sometimes called the “personal representative”, who is responsible for carrying out the instructions in the will. The executor will pay any debts the deceased owes from assets in the probate estate, and then distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. All wills must go through probate in Nevada.

If the person who died did not have a will, their assets will be distributed according to Nevada’s intestacy laws. This means it will pass to the next of kin whether the deceased person wanted it or not, and sometimes the estate will pass to a certain family member, or members, you do NOT want to inherit your estate. Even a forced inheritance can create problems for disabled persons who are receiving federal benefits. In cases without a will or estate plan, the court will appoint an administrator to handle the estate. The administrator will pay any debts owed by the deceased’s estate from the assets of the estate and distribute the remaining assets to the deceased’s heirs as determined by law,

In Nevada, if the value of the deceased’s assets is less than $100,000 and no real estate is involved, the estate may be able to go through a simplified probate process. This process is called a “small estate affidavit” and involves filing a form with the court that lists the deceased’s assets and debts. If the court approves the affidavit, the assets can be distributed without going through the full probate process.

The probate process can be more complex if the deceased owned real estate. In Nevada, real estate can be transferred outside of probate through a transfer on a death deed. This allows the owner of the real estate to name a beneficiary who will automatically inherit the property when they die. However, there are hidden pitfalls for the unwary in the use of a deed upon death.

Overall, the probate process in Nevada can be a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming process. It is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to ensure that the process is completed correctly and efficiently. Call our office to set a time to talk about your future.

By Travis Clark, Esq.

Kimberly Surratt served for eight years on the executive council and has been the vice chair and then chair of the State Bar of Nevada Family Law Section. In addition, she is the President-Elect of the Nevada Justice Association and the chair of the domestic lobbying committee. She has lobbied with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004.

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The Importance of an Estate Plan

An estate plan is crucial in Nevada because it ensures that your assets and wishes are protected and carried out according to your desires after you pass away, and will help you avoid probate. It involves making important decisions about how your property, finances, and personal matters will be managed.