Probate Process: What Does It Mean to Close An Estate And How Much Will It Cost?
If you talk to anyone that has served as a personal representative, or anyone that has been a beneficiary of a Will, they will both tell you the same thing. Both will say they would like the process to go faster. For a personal representative to finish their duties and for beneficiaries to receive their property, the estate must be closed out of probate. This article explains how an estate is closed and how much it costs. The experienced trust and probate attorneys at Lee, Kiefer & Park LLC can assist in administering the estate.
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. All of the attorneys received their degrees from well-respected law schools.
Closing an Estate in Nevada
A Nevada estate must go through many steps to be deemed ready to close. Estates are not ready to be closed if any of the following exist: there is pending litigation involving the estate; assets need to be sold before distribution of assets can be accomplished; there is money or other property that is due to the estate that has not been collected; there are outstanding creditor claims; a dispute exists among the beneficiaries of the estate; or tax liabilities or other legal obligations of the decedent or the estate have not been satisfied.
Petition to Close Estate
After these things have been addressed, the personal representative files a final report to the Court concerning the status of the estate along with a petition seeking closure. After reviewing this petition, the Court can order that the assets be distributed. Absent an order of the Court, assets cannot be distributed. The petition must contain a statement that the personal representative has fully administered the estate, a statement that the creditor claims have been paid, settled, or deemed barred, and the amount of compensation paid or due to the personal representative and the attorneys. A breakdown of how these fees were determined must be included as well.
In addition, a plan for distribution of the assets must be presented which includes a list of all prior distributions, a list of property remaining to be distributed, a note describing the proposed distribution of the remaining assets, and the amount of funds to be retained to pay expenses that are incurred as part of the process to distribute the remaining assets and any funds needed for termination of the estate administration.
The personal representative must provide notice of the to all interested parties when a hearing is scheduled. This notice of the hearing must be mailed at least ten days before the date of the hearing to all interested parties. Interested parties includes beneficiaries in will, other heirs, personal representatives included in will, Director of Health and Human Services, among others. If the addresses of these individuals is known, notice must be published in a newspaper three times. The last publication must be at least ten days before the hearing. If the addresses are not known, publication must be three consecutive weeks, the last at least ten days before the hearing.
The personal representative must follow the order of the Court in distributing assets. Sometimes, the order will have different provisions than the Will. Beneficiaries may agree among themselves to alter the amounts to which they are entitled under a Will. For this to happen, all affected parties must enter into a written agreement. Duties of the personal representative including administering the estate for the benefit of creditors, to pay taxes and costs of administration, and to fulfill their responsibilities to beneficiaries not in the agreement remain in force. See our Personal Representative article. Knowing that these types of agreements can affect tax consequences is important. If a beneficiary is giving their interest away voluntarily, this is a gift and other taxes come into play. If the decrease is to solve a dispute, no gift exists.
Once a distribution is made, the personal representative should give a receipt to each person or entity that has received assets. The beneficiary will sign the receipt and these receipts will be filed with the court. Once these receipts are received, the personal representative asks the court for a final discharge order from the Court. If the Court feels the personal representative has complied with its order and distributed the assets in accordance, the Court will discharge the personal representative of their duties.
Costs of Administration
Costs for an estate proceeding include costs for the personal representative, legal fees, and filing fees. If a case is routing without a contest, costs can range anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 for legal fees. This depends largely on what assets are present. Some assets are more complicated to gather. Sometimes there is a business to manage. Taxes need to be filed and assets sold. Attorneys’ fees can be based on the total value of the estate. In this case, it is mandated in law that a decreasing scale of percentage as the value of the estate increases.
The initial filing fee to open a probate is approximately $150 to $550 depending on how much value the estate has. More filing fees will be required but these are low cost.
In closing an estate out of probate, many requirements exist and must be met. We would love to assist you in the process of administering the estate. Contact Lee, Kiefer & Park LLC for a free consultation, either by using the online form or by calling 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.