Independent Administration: What Am I Able to Do and What Is Not Allowed?
Nevada has a complicated process when it comes to dividing property at the time of a person’s death. Unlike some states, virtually every action taken during the Probate process must be approved by the Court. As the value of the estate increases, more is required. Small estates can have a streamlined process while larger estates get more complicated. A fact that is not well known is that a personal representative can petition the Court to administer the estate independently. This article explains when this is possible. The experienced trust and probate attorneys at Lee, Kiefer & Park, LLC, can assist in making this determination.
Lee, Kiefer, & Park, LLC, is a team of probate and estate lawyers. The firm is located in Las Vegas and provides legal services throughout Nevada. The attorneys are knowledgeable and reputable. Managing partner Kennedy E. Lee and partner Matthew W. Park have been listed as preeminent lawyers by the widely respected Martindale-Hubbell lawyer rating service. Each of the founding partners has been selected as Super Lawyers and Legal Elite. The attorneys received their degrees from well-respected law schools.
In Nevada, a personal representative may seek to administer the estate under a law called the Independent Administration of Estates Act. If granted, the personal representative can act concerning assets without the Court authorizing such action. A Will can prohibit administration of the estate under the Independent Administration of Estates Act but it is not common.
It is preferable to go through the Court process as court orders provide some security and force of law. This will guarantee the actions of the personal representative are acceptable. Under independent administration, a personal representative will be liable if their actions are improper. The personal representative still must prepare and send every document required of a normal process which can be overwhelming. See Personal Representative Post. Personal representatives should desire the added protection of the Court process.
To request Independent Administration, a personal representative must submit a petition to the Court. The request for Independent Administration can be done in an original petition seeking probate of a will or can be done in a separate petition that solely addresses the Independent Administration issue. They may request full authority or limited authority. The main difference between limited authority and full authority is that when proceeding with full authority to administer the estate independently, no authorization for transactions regarding real property is required. When proceeding with limited authority, court authorization is required.
Notice must be given. After a court hearing is scheduled, the personal representative must provide notice of the time and place of the hearing to each interested person. Each known heir whose interest is affected by the petition and each person named as personal representative in the decedent’s will must also receive notice. Notice can be mailed at least 10 days before the hearing. If interested persons cannot be found, publication in a newspaper must be done. The Court can mandate others receive notice as well. This notice gives an interested party an opportunity to object to the proposed action. If there is an objection made by an interested person, the personal representative must get approval from the court to act. Any interested person can waive the notice.
The notice of proposed action includes the name and mailing address of the personal representative, the person and telephone number to call to get additional information, the action proposed to be taken, with a reasonably specific description of the action, the date at which the person wishes to take the proposed action, and a form for objection to the proposed action. This notice must be mailed or personally delivered to each interested person at least 15 days before the action is to be taken.
Some actions are not allowed without court authorization even if the Court has previously granted independent administration. These instances include allowance for the personal representative’s compensation, an allowance for attorney’s fees, the settlement of accounts, the distribution of assets and discharge of the personal representative, and any transaction personally involving the personal representative and their attorney.
It is important to remember that even if the Court allows independent administration of the estate, the personal representative still has duties they must live up to. A personal representative in Nevada must use reasonable diligence in performing the duties of the personal representative. As long as the personal representative acts in good faith, they will not be liable for any losses incurred by the estate. The personal representative must comply with the terms of the will, be loyal, be impartial, and manage estate assets prudently.
Although may authorize the personal representative to administer the estate independently, it is still a difficult process with much responsibility. A typical Nevada estate proceeding takes approximately six months. It may take longer if there is a contest or other litigation, a search is required to find assets, gathering the other assets requires a lot of time, or a federal estate tax return is required.
An attorney can assist you in navigating the process ensuring that things are done property. If you need help determining if you can administer an estate independently, contact Lee, Kiefer & Park, LLC, for a free consultation, either by using the online form or by calling 702-333-1711.