“For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.” –Ecclesiastes 2:21
What happens to your belongings when you die? In Nevada, the answer largely depends on what preparation and planning you do while you are alive. It also depends on the size of your estate. For those who do not create a trust during their lifetime, or for those who do not put all their property into their trust, a court may oversee the process of transferring assets from the deceased to those who are entitled to inherit.
Nevada has four levels of probate or estate administration.
- Affidavit. If the deceased owned $25,000 or less, had no real property and no debts, the heirs can present a simple affidavit with a death certificate to a bank, DMV or the like in order to transfer title. In this case there is no need to file anything in court. A surviving spouse may use the Affidavit for an estate with a gross value of less than $100,000.
- Set Aside. If the deceased owned $100,000 or less, the heirs can petition the district court to set aside the estate to the heirs or beneficiaries without any court supervised administration. This procedure is relatively simple and economical.
- Summary Administration. If the deceased owned between $100,000.01 and $300,000, the will must be lodged with the court and the person designated the personal representative or executor must conduct a formal, court supervised procedure to administer the estate, pay the debts and distribute the remaining assets to the heirs. If the deceased did not have a will, a relative or other interested person may petition to administer the estate. The assets would go to the relatives of the deceased in accordance with Nevada’s laws of intestate succession.
- General Administration. If the deceased owned more than $300,000, the estate must be administered under 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 in which creditors have to file claims against the estate.
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