What Is Probate?
Probate is an area of law that is not often spoken about or are neglected by individuals due to facing the reality of death. In very general terms, probate is the legal process that happens after a person dies in order to pay lawful creditors and transfer assets to rightful beneficiaries.
This can include proving the validity of a will, identifying the deceased person's property and the value of that property, transferring that property, and paying debts.
Probate is a complicated process for anyone to try to handle without an attorney. This is because dealing with a probate court is not something that is common knowledge, and having to handle complicated legal matters while grieving the loss of a loved one is exceptionally agonizing.
The Clark County District Court (probate court) will oversee the distribution of the assets in the estate either according to the terms of a valid will or under Nevada law if there is no will.
Do I need to open a Nevada probate?
If the decedent had property that didn't automatically transfer upon his/her death then probate is probably necessary. Also, if the decedent owed debts, probate might help resolve the creditors.
Lastly, if there is a dispute as to who has the right to inherit property, then probate should be opened. Otherwise, if the decedent left no property to transfer, then probate might not be necessary.
To decide if you should go through probate in Nevada, you should ask the following questions:
- Did the decedent live in Nevada?
- Did the decedent own property in Nevada at the time of death?
- Did the decedent die in Nevada?
- Is there a current or expected Nevada lawsuit?
It is important to know that Nevada courts only have jurisdiction over real property in Nevada. This means that if the decedent lived or died in Nevada, Nevada courts only have jurisdiction over the property or estate located in Nevada.
Probate Court administration of Estates
There are four different types of probate court administrations in Nevada and the one that must be used is dependent on the value of the decedent's estate.
If you do not know the value of the estate or what the estate includes then you have to look to finding or being appointed a special administrator.
If affairs on behalf of the decedent need to be handles like filing a lawsuit, negotiating claims, selling real estate or other assets, or accepting settlements or proceeds from a lawsuit, without dealing immediately with the distribution of assets, then a special administration should be used.
What property passes through probate?
Only certain property passes through probate. This means that certain assets that the decedent owned before death do not become part of the probate estate. Non-probate assets pass to another person by operation of law or under the terms of a contract.
For example, if a couple owns a house in "joint tenancy with a right of survivorship" (this means that when one spouse dies, the deceased spouse's share passes automatically to the living spouse), that house does not have to go through probate. Other property, like life insurance and retirement accounts, pass to the beneficiary who the decedent chose to receive the benefits when the decedent was living.
When handling a probate matter a person may deal with:
- Family members of decedent
- Creditors of the decedent
- Potential and actual heirs
- A surviving spouse of the decedent
- Opposing attorneys
- A judge
Due to the plethora of laws and individuals involved in a Nevada probate process, it it is best to hire an experienced attorney to assist with the court process. In most instances, attorneys fees are paid by the estate, meaning you will not have to spend your own money to handle a deceased individual's probate in Nevada.
Stovall and Associates has been in Las Vegas for over four decades and has handled thousands of probate cases.
Our attorneys have the expertise to assist with:
- Wills and Will Disputes
- Trusts and Trust Disputes
- Powers of Attorney
- Guardianship and Guardianship Disputes
- Liability of Guardians
- Trustees and Administrators
- Trust Administration
- Trust Litigation
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims