How Probate Works
Probate is the legal process of gathering a deceased person’s property and transferring it to creditors and heirs, as well as settling any of the decedent’s other remaining affairs.. Except for very small estates, the probate process is supervised by a judge in probate court. It’s the judge’s job to make sure that everything in the estate is handled properly and according to 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 used for larger estates.
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. Surviving spouses can use an Affidavit of Entitlement for estates that are worth less than $100,000 (and 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 using percentages set by statute (NRS 150.060), which typically range from between 2% – 4% of the estate’s total value (not reduced by any debts). Although some attorneys prefer to bill by the hour, we prefer the flat fee because we think it’s simpler and makes it easier for the client to anticipate the cost without worrying about the possibility of unexpected hourly charges.
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: Less than 6 weeks
- Set Aside: 6 – 8 weeks
- Summary Administration: 6 – 8 months
- General Administration 9 – 12 months, but occasionally extending longer
Keep in mind that not all property has to go through probate. 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
These types of property pass automatically without the need for any type of probate proceeding. Also, property held in a trust can be transferred without probate as well.
Probate can be a lengthy and confusing process. If you want to discuss your loved one’s estate, please schedule a free consultation with our Reno probate attorney.