What Assets Are Subject to Nevada Probate?
Not all assets must go through probate in Nevada. The probate process has a bad reputation for delay and bureaucracy. You may fear the worst if a loved one recently passed, but it may not be as painful as you think. State law limits the property involved. If there is no such property, or its value is limited, there might be no need for probate, or the estate may qualify for a simpler resolution.
If you or your family needs a lawyer for probate administration, the experienced Las Vegas probate lawyers at LKP can help. LKP represents personal representatives, beneficiaries, and creditors in probate cases of all types. Call us at 702-333-1711 to schedule a consultation.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of changing titles of assets from the deceased to the person or entity entitled to receive those assets. The personal representative, the person appointed by the court to be responsible for the estate (the legal entity that owns the deceased’s assets), creates an inventory of probate assets.
The personal representative determines what debts, taxes, and fees must be paid. What remains can be distributed to beneficiaries named in a will. If there’s no will, the assets will go to the nearest living family members based on Nevada law.
Is Probate Required in Nevada?
After the person’s death, the process of settling their estate depends on if there’s a will and the estate’s value. If there is or not, probate transfers estate assets to those entitled to them, whether that’s creditors who must be paid, government entities owed taxes, or next of kin. If there are no probate assets, there’s no need for probate. Nevada District Courts monitor the probate process.
To determine what probate process, if any, is needed depends on deciding what assets must pass through the estate and if any, their value. Generally, the less valuable the probate assets, the simpler and faster the process. If you are concerned about how probate may affect your beneficiaries, you can structure your wealth so that more of it is in non-probate assets.
Nevada’s probate system includes:
- General administration
This is the full probate process where the court appoints a personal representative. They take responsibility for estate matters. General administration is required if the net value of the estate (the value of all probate assets less any encumbrances) exceeds $300,000. This can also be used if the estate’s value is unknown.
- Summary administration
This is similar but without certain proceedings and notice requirements. The court may order a summary administration if the estate’s net value is less than or equal to $300,000.
- Set aside estate
If the net estate value isn’t greater than $100,000, the estate may be distributed by court order, without further administration, to those entitled to the assets. A surviving spouse can use this method for up to $100,000 if real property is involved.
- Small estate affidavit
If the estate’s net value isn’t greater than $25,000 and doesn’t include real property, those entitled to the estate’s assets may present an affidavit claiming the property without any court interaction. The amount increases to $100,000 if the person claiming the property is a surviving spouse.
What Assets Do Not Pass Through the Estate?
Non-probate assets are those passing by a contract’s terms or operation of law.
- Operation of law
Property passing by operation of law includes assets held by:
- Two or more persons in joint tenancy, including a “right of survivorship.” This means multiple people owned property while they were alive, but after one dies, that ownership interest goes to the survivors.
- Married couples as community property (each spouse has a half ownership interest) with a right of survivorship
Nevada law also permits a landowner to create a “deed upon death” (or “transfer-on-death deed,” “beneficiary deed,” or “deed on death”). The deed can be changed or ended while the owner is alive, but if no change is made, the named beneficiary or beneficiaries are entitled to the property without going through probate.
- Under the terms of a contract
These contracts include some buy-sell agreements by business owners and contracts designating beneficiaries, including:
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement accounts (IRAs, Keogh accounts, and qualified plan benefits)
If you’re making these investments, list a primary beneficiary who can get these assets if they survive you and a contingent beneficiary in case the primary beneficiary does not.
What Assets Pass Through the Estate?
The “probate estate” includes all assets not falling into the categories above. They include real estate solely owned by the deceased or subject to a contract where there’s no beneficiary.
Manage Probate. Don’t Let it Manage You
Once you know what property must pass through probate and the assets that can go to others outside the process, you can plan accordingly. If you believe structuring your assets to prevent or limit probate is worth the cost, we can help.
An experienced Nevada estate planning attorney can help you plan your estate with the probate process in mind. We can also help you and your family through the probate process after the death of a loved one. Contact Lee Kiefer & Park for a free consultation by filling out the online form or call us at 702-333-1711.
Attorney Kennedy Lee practices in all aspects of trust and estate law. He views all legal issues from multiple angles (e.g. from litigation to administration point of view) to provide a higher quality of service to our client.