How Does the Probate Process Work?

The death of a loved one is never easy, and when there’s a dispute over the deceased person’s estate, the difficulties increase. In or near the Las Vegas area, if you anticipate a dispute over a loved one’s estate, you should obtain the advice and services of a Las Vegas probate lawyer.

Unless you take the steps that are necessary to avoid probate, after your death, a probate court will inventory and evaluate the assets and properties in your estate, ensure that your estate’s taxes and debts are paid, and distribute what remains according to the instructions in your will.

Probate is often complicated by challenges to a will, delays, family conflicts, and a number of other issues. If you are the executor or the beneficiary of a will in or near the Las Vegas area, contact a Nevada probate attorney as early as possible and before the probate process begins.

What if Your Loved One Does Not Leave a Will?

If someone dies in Nevada and does not have a will, that person is said to have died “intestate.” The rules for those who die intestate are different and complicated compared to the rules for those who prepare a will, because someone who dies intestate leaves no instructions to follow.

Intestate decedents represent the most common complication in probate proceedings. Because no executor has been named, the first question a probate court must decide is who may administer the estate. The court usually names the relative with the closest relationship, in this order:

  1. spouse
  2. adult children
  3. parents
  4. siblings
  5. grandparents

When someone dies intestate in Nevada, that person’s probatable assets will be distributed among his or her relatives according to the state’s intestate succession laws.

What Happens When There is a Dispute Among Beneficiaries?

If you believe that you were wrongly left out of a will, that your inheritance was less than you should have inherited, or that a will was not valid for some other reason, you should schedule a consultation to discuss your rights and legal options with a Las Vegas probate attorney.

Only “interested persons” – those who will be materially affected if the will is enforced – may challenge a will in a Nevada probate proceeding. This includes anyone who would inherit under the state’s intestate laws had the decedent died without a will. Interested persons also include:

  1.  anyone who was receiving real estate under a previous will
  2.  any party named in the current will
  3.  any party legally entitled to payment or compensation from the decedent

Disputes among beneficiaries are the second most common complication in probate proceedings in Nevada. In many of these cases, parents, spouses, siblings, and other relatives who are dissatisfied with their share of the decedent’s estate may contest the will and delay the process.

What Happens When There Are Issues With a Will’s Executor?

A will’s executor has the duty to file the will with the probate court and to manage an estate’s assets properly. This may include collecting any debts owed to the estate, divesting the estate of precarious investments, and making sure that the estate’s assets are properly insured.

When an executor fails to perform his or her duties honestly and legally, a beneficiary may have an attorney send a Notice of Probate to the executor or may file a lawsuit against the executor.

A Notice of Probate requires the executor to produce the will. If you send a Notice of Probate to the executor, and the executor cannot or will not produce the will, you should consider your options in consultation with your Las Vegas probate lawyer.

Are There Deadlines for Probate in Nevada?

The amount of time that’s needed to close an estate depends on the estate’s size and complexity, locating assets that may be difficult to find, and a number of other factors. Executors must file a copy of the will with the probate court within thirty days of learning of the decedent’s death.

Legal challenges to a will must be filed with the probate court within 120 days after the will has been submitted to the court.

Creditors must file a claim within sixty days (if an estate’s value is below $300,000) or within ninety days (if the estate’s value surpasses $300,000) after the will is submitted to the court. Under Nevada law, creditors must meet these deadlines and may not make additional claims.

Can Probate Be Avoided?

Probate may be avoided in several ways. A Las Vegas probate attorney can assist you with preparing a revocable living trust and moving your assets into that trust. After your death, your trustee will then be allowed to manage the trust without a probate court’s interference.

Assets that are not probatable and that transfer directly to your beneficiaries include:

  1. 401(k) accounts
  2. beneficiary or transfer-on-death deeds
  3. individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
  4. joint tenancy arrangements
  5. life insurance policies
  6. payment-on-death bank accounts
  7. tax-deferred retirement plan proceeds
  8. transfer-on-death securities

What is Important for Executors and Beneficiaries to Remember?

If you are named as the executor of a will in this state, ask a Nevada probate attorney to help you satisfy the probate court’s requirements for paying taxes, settling debts, and transferring assets to beneficiaries.

If you are the beneficiary of a will and you believe the will’s executor is not properly handling his or her duties, consult a probate lawyer at once to discuss your rights and your legal options.

How Can You Locate the Right Probate Attorney?

If you contest a will in this state, award-winning Nevada probate attorney Rebecca A. Fuller will represent you and will advocate aggressively and effectively on your behalf.

With more than seventeen years of experience, attorney Rebecca A. Fuller handles probate disputes and offers estate planning services to her clients throughout the State of Nevada.

To challenge a will, to obtain legal help as the executor of a will, or to set up a will or a revocable living trust, call Fuller Law Practice promptly at 702-935-4144. Attorney Rebecca A. Fuller will advise you honestly, and if necessary, she will go to court for the justice you need.