What would happen to your assets if you died today? A proper estate plan can be the difference between an efficient, expeditious, and inexpensive distribution of your estate and an administration that takes years and costs tens of thousands of dollars. In Nevada, there are several mechanisms that can be implemented to avoid the expense of probate entirely.
When people do not establish a trust or take other steps to avoid probate, the Probate Court will then supervise all activities relating to the payment of the final expenses of the decedent, determine who is entitled to inherit the deceased person’s assets, and charge for those services.
Nevada has four levels of probate or estate administration.
Affidavit of Entitlement or Affidavit of Small Estate
If the deceased owned $20,000 or less and had no real property and no debts, the heirs can present a simple affidavit with a death certificate to a bank, DMV, or other entity in order to transfer title. In this case there is no need to file anything in Court.
Set Aside without Administration
If the deceased owned $100,000 or less, the heirs or beneficiaries under the Will can petition the District Court to distribute the decedent’s assets to the heirs or beneficiaries without any Court supervised administration. This procedure is relatively simple and economical.
If the deceased owned assets valued between $100,000 and $200,000, either the deceased’s next of kin or the person the decedent designated in a Last Will and Testament as the Executor/Executrix must conduct a formal, Probate Court supervised procedure to administer the estate, pay the debts and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. If the deceased did not have a Will, a relative or other interested person may petition to administer the estate. The assets go to the relatives of the deceased in accordance with Nevada’s laws of intestate succession. This process cannot be completed in less than four (4) months and the administrative and attorneys’ fees associated therewith can be determined by a percentage of the total estate.
If the deceased dies with assets in excess of $200,000, the estate must be administered under Probate Court supervision, as in a Summary Administration. The only difference between the two is that, in a General Administration, there is a longer period of time creditors have to file claims against the estate and the filing fees are almost double that of a Summary Administration. This process cannot be completed in less than five (5) months and it is not uncommon for an uncontested General Administration to take longer than one (1) year.
Probate Court can be avoided with an estate plan designed by a competent attorney. The costs for establishing mechanisms for avoiding the intervention of the Probate Court are generally much less expensive than conducting a Probate administration and generally lead to much fewer problems such as will contests, trust contests and other litigation which can lead to additional fees and delays.
Christopher J. Phillips, Esq.