Probate FAQs for Las Vegas, NV

  • What is Probate?
    • The probate process is the management and distribution of a person’s assets to the people named in a will, or to the person’s lawful heirs when they die; under the supervision, and with the approval of the Nevada Probate Court.
    • Depending on the type of asset, and whether a decedent (person who died) had an effective estate plan, a decedent’s estate may still need to go through the probate process, even if the decedent had a will.
  • When are Probate proceedings necessary?
    • Probate proceedings are necessary for a decedent’s estate when a person dies leaving title to an asset in their name only with no named beneficiary, or by intestate succession under Nevada Revised Statute (“NRS”) 134, or in conformity with the terms of a Decedent’s will.
  • What types of assets may need to be a part of probate proceedings?
    • The types of assets that may need to be included in the probate proceedings most commonly include:
      • Real Property located in Nevada, with the title in the decedent’s name only, or as the sole surviving joint tenant. This includes timeshares.
      • Bank accounts with no Pay on Death (POD) designation, or in the Decedent’s name only.
      • Investment accounts with no beneficiary designation, or is in the Decedent’s name only.
      • Vehicles.
      • Boats.
    • Common categories of assets that do not need to be included in a probate proceeding are:
      • Real or personal property properly owned and managed by a living trust.
      • Life Insurance Policies with a beneficiary designation.
      • Bank Account with Pay on Death (POD) designation.
      • Real Property where a Transfer on Death Deed (TOD) has been recorded.
      • Retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries such as IRA’s and/or 401(k) accounts.
  • How long will the probate proceedings take? What should I expect?
    • The length, or how long a probate case lasts, depends on the total value of a decedent’s assets when they die (estate value).
    • Depending on a decedent’s estate value, a probate case will fit into one of three main categories when it is ready for administration: 1) Set Aside Probate Administration; 2) Summary Probate Administration; or 3) General Probate Administration.
    • Depending on the estate value and the type of probate proceedings required, the probate case could last anywhere from a few weeks to many months.
    • Other factors that affect how long a probate process will take is whether any person objects to the will, known as a will contest; or contests distribution of assets.
      • Will contests are most common when family members would receive disproportionate shares or the shares changed from one version of the will to a later one or when there are two copies of a decedent’s will.
  • How much does a Probate cost?
    • The cost of a probate is determined by the type of probate, the length of the case, and the amount of work involved.
    • Small estates (Estate value under $100,000) are usually quick and simple under NRS 146, if there are no creditors of the estate.
    • Summary administration probate proceedings are for estates with a total value of between $100,000 and $300,000, and usually last between 5-8 months, depending on whether any real property is involved, and/or whether there are any creditors of the estate.   
    • General administration probate proceedings are for estates with a total value of $300,000 or more, and usually last in excess of 1 year depending on whether there are any disputes between beneficiaries.
  • What are the important timelines in the probate process?
    • Under Nevada law, probate proceedings cannot be initiated within 30 days from when a person dies.
    • If a person died testate (with a valid will under NRS 133), the original copy of the will needs to be filed with the clerk of the court, in the county in which the Decedent was a resident of within 30 days from date of death, regardless of whether probate proceedings will be commenced.
  • What will I need when I meet with a probate attorney?
    • Copy of Decedent’s death certificate.
    • All of Decedent’s estate plan documents.
    • During the initial meeting or consultation with a probate attorney, the attorney will want to know or see a list of:
      • The assets are only in the name of the decedent.
        • For any bank or investment accounts, the value of each account and the most recent statement, if possible.
      • The names, addresses, ages, and relationship to the decedent of all person within two relationship degrees to the decedent.
  • COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS / PROBATE MYTHS
    • If a person had a will, probate proceedings aren’t necessary.
      • This is a very common misconception. A Will is merely a more formal vehicle for a person to memorialize and indicate to their heirs, beneficiaries, and the probate Court, what should happen with the assets of their estate when they die. In Nevada, in the absence of a validly created revocable living trust or irrevocable trust, the distribution of a decedent’s assets under a Will must be done under the supervision of the local jurisdiction’s probate court.
      • In many cases, a Last Will and Testament can make the probate process clearer and simpler, and in other cases, may create challenges and problems in a probate proceeding.
    • If I am named (nominated) as an executor or personal representative in the decedent’s will, I can begin distributing assets without court approval, right?
      • This is a common misconception and could have serious consequences if a person mistakenly begins taking possession of and distributing a decedent’s assets without court approval.

Handling Probate is hard work. You don’t have to do it alone. Contact us today for help and guidance during this time.

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