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Probate & Estate Administration

When a loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a Nevada court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed.  If the assets of the deceased were owned through a well drafted and properly funded living trust, it is likely that no court-managed administration is necessary, though the successor trustee needs to administer the distribution of the deceased's assets.  The length of time needed to complete the probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the Nevada Revised Statutes governing the administration of estates.

Nevada probate usually involves the following steps:

  • Filing of a petition with the proper probate court.
  • Notice to heirs under the will or to statutory heirs (if no will exists).
  • Petition to appoint Executor (in the case of a will) or Administrator for the estate.
  • Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Executor/Administrator.
  • Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors.
  • Payment of estate and income taxes, if applicable.
  • Sale of estate assets if necessary.
  • Final distribution of assets to heirs.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What happens if someone objects to the will?
An objection to a will or competing will is presented is known as a “will contest” and can be incredibly costly to litigate.

In order to contest a will, one has to have legal “standing” to raise objections.  This usually occurs when, for example, children are to receive disproportionate shares under the will, or when distribution schemes change from a prior will to a later will.  In addition to disputes over the tangible distributions, will contests can be a quarrel over the person designated in the will to serve as Executor.

Does probate administer all property of the deceased?
Nevada probate is primarily a process through which title to assets only in the decedent's name without a named beneficiary are transferred from the name of the deceased to the next of kin per NRS 134 http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-134.html or pursuant to the decedent's valid will.

Certain types of assets are “non-probate assets” and do not go through probate.  These include:

  • Property in which you own title as “joint tenants with right of survivorship”.  Such property passes to the co-owners by operation of law and do not go through probate.
  • Retirement accounts such as IRA and 401(k) accounts where there are designated beneficiaries.
  • Life insurance policies.
  • Bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) designations or “in trust for” designations.
  • Property owned by a living trust.  Legal title to such property passes to successor trustees without having to go through probate.

Do I get paid for serving as an Executor?
Executors are reimbursed for all legitimate out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the process of management and distribution of the deceased’s estate.  In addition, you may be entitled to statutory fees pursuant to NRS 150.020 and also extraordinary compensation  http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-150.html.   The Executor has to fulfill his or her fiduciary duties on behalf of the estate with the highest degree of integrity and can be held liable for mismanagement of estate assets in his or her care.  It is advised that the Executor retain an attorney and an accountant to advise and assist him with his or her duties.

How much does probate cost?  How long does it take?
The cost and duration of probate in Nevada can vary substantially depending on a number of factors such as the value and complexity of the estate, the existence of a Will and the location of real property owned by the estate.  Will contests or disputes with alleged creditors over the debts of the estate can also add significant cost and delay.  Common expenses of an estate include executors’ fees, attorneys’ fees, accounting fees, court fees, publication costs, appraisal costs, and surety bonds.  Estates under $100,000 can be resolved relatively quickly pursuant to NRS 146 which has substantial advantages for surviving spouses and minor children http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-146.html.  Estates over $100,000 are settled though probate from 3 to 18 months, assuming there is no litigation involved.


Phillips Ballenger is located in Las Vegas, NV and serves clients in the Las Vegas, Summerlin, Henderson, and Boulder City areas.



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