Probate is the legal process of settling someone’s affairs after they pass away (the person who passed away is referred to as the “decedent” in probate matters). This usually includes:
- Determining if the decedent’s Last Will and Testament is valid (if there is one);
- Identifying and gathering the decedent’s property;
- Making arrangements to pay the decedent’s debts; and
- Distributing the decedent’s property to his or her heirs (if anything is left over after paying the debts)
All of this happens under the supervision of the probate court. The judge is there to make sure that the decedent’s estate is handled properly and according to the law.
Types Of Probate In Nevada
There are different levels of probate in Nevada depending on the dollar value of the decedent’s estate. Smaller estates get to go through simplified probate proceedings that cost less and close much faster than the full-blown probate process that larger estates have to go through.
Here are the four levels of probate proceedings in Nevada:
- Affidavit of Entitlement: Estate’s worth less than $25,000 that do not include any real estate. A new law was passed for 2016 that allows surviving spouses to use an Affidavit of Entitlement for estates worth less than $100,000 that do not include any real estate.
- Set Aside: Estates with a net value of less than $100,000;
- Summary Administration: Estates with a net value of less than $300,000;
- General Administration: All other estates (this full blown probate)
Time And Cost Of Probate
The cost and duration of probate depend on the level of probate proceeding, as well as the complexity of the decedent’s estate. Attorneys fees for probate are generally done on a flat fee basis based on the dollar value of the estate. The fees typically range from between 2% – 4% of the estate’s total value (not reduced by any debts). Click here for the probate fee schedule for Cross Law.
The time it takes to complete the probate process depends on the type of probate proceeding. Here are some general rules of thumb (measured from date of death):
- Affidavit of Entitlement: 6 – 8 weeks
- Set Aside: 8 – 12 weeks
- Summary Administration: 4 – 6 months
- General Administration 6 – 12 months, but occasionally extending longer
Avoiding Probate In Nevada
Keep in mind that not all property has to go through probate. While any property distributed by will and/or titled in the decedent’s name will need to go through probate, other types won’t. These are referred to as “non-probate assets” and pass automatically upon death without any oversight from the probate court, including:
- Property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship
- Retirement accounts with a designated beneficiary, such as an IRA or 401(k)
- Life insurance policies
- Bank accounts with a “pay on death” designation”
If you have any other questions, please contact us to schedule a free consultation with our Reno probate attorney.