Heir Rights (NV)

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As an heir, you likely have questions about the inheritance process in NV, and your rights.

Overall, if you are entitled to receive an inheritance, you have the right to expect to receive that inheritance ... eventually. While some states attempt to put deadlines on estate settlements, an average estate takes 16 months to settle, and some take years (see Inheritance Timing).

Rights Under NV Probate

Most estates are settled by an executor appointed by the court (often a family member), under a court-supervised process known as probate. The executor has significant discretionary power, but he or she has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the estate, to follow the law, and to distribute estate proceeds to the rightful heirs.

However, NV estates must satisfy obligations according to priority (for example, debts take precedence over distributions), so in some cases your inheritance will be less than expected, or even be completely consumed by other estate priorities (which must generally affect all potential heirs proportionately). See Estate Expenses, Fees, and Taxes for more information, and note that for your protection, estate executors must document all estate transactions and make these records available to the courts ... and in some states, must proactively deliver these records in a Final Accounting to the heirs as well.

Your rights as an heir include:

  • Notice: Many states have laws that require an estate executor to notify you of the death and the estate proceeding if you are mentioned in the will, if there is no will and you are entitled to inherit by intestate succession, or even if there is a will that doesn't mention you, but you would have been entitled to inherit by intestate succession (i.e., you are an "heir-at-law").
  • Estate Information: Many states require the executor to provide you a copy of the estate inventory, as well as a Final Accounting (what happened to the inventory, what estate expenses were incurred, etc.). If the estate is undergoing probate, and the state does not require that the executor directly supply you the information, you can simply make a public records request for the reports filed with the court.
  • NV Family Entitlements: If you are a surviving spouse or dependent child, you likely have additional rights that go beyond anything mentioned in the will or mandated by the laws of intestate succession. Surviving family members often have the right to remain living in the family home for a certain period of time, to automatically receive certain personal possessions, to receive a living allowance from the estate while it is being settled, and to receive certain minimum amounts (see NV Family Entitlement details for your state).
  • Reasonable Timeframe: Unless the asset is one that automatically transfers on death (such as an IRA with a named beneficiary), you can expect the process to take 12-18 months on average, and sometimes considerably longer (see Inheritance Timing). An executor has a duty to settle an estate in a reasonable timeframe, but most states are very lenient about such timeframes, and there are legitimate reasons that some estates take years to settle. On the other hand, some executor simply cannot handle the task, or unreasonably delay, and those can be grounds to ask the court to remove the executor and appoint someone else.
  • Court Objections: If the estate undergoes probate (and most do), you have the right to object to the probate court about anything you think is being done incorrectly or improperly. You can object to the appointment of a particular executor, you can object to the validity of a will, you can object to particular distributions (not just your own), you can object to sales of assets, you can object to how long things are taking ... in fact, you can object to almost anything. You just need to make sure you have valid grounds for doing so, and it's important to realize that settling an estate is a difficult task that takes time. See Court to find your particular court.
  • Lawsuits: If the probate judge does not respond to your objection as desired, or if there is no probate proceeding, then you can file a civil lawsuit against the estate. Such lawsuits can be expensive, and should be considered only as a last resort.

Additional considerations:

  • Expectations: Please keep in mind that although a will may be specific about an intended inheritance, other factors can sometimes intervene to modify or even entirely invalidate the inheritance. See NV Rules of Inheritance for details.
  • Inheritance Taxes: Some states have inheritance taxes for which the executor has the responsibility of paying, out of your share, before giving you your remaining inheritance. If your executor is using EstateExec, it will tell him or her if such taxes apply.
  • Executor Discretion: Unless the inheritance is a specific bequest, the executor may have some discretion in deciding how to give you your share of an estate. The executor may decide to liquidate assets and give you all cash (and cash equivalents), or the executor may mix and match assets to equal your share. You have to the right to ask for your share to be given in a certain form, but the executor does not have to respect your wishes. For this reason (and others), it is advisable to try to retain a good relationship with the executor (see Working with Executors).
  • Inheritance Receipts: When you receive an inheritance, the executor will likely ask you to sign a receipt, which can be required. However, the executor will often ask you, as a condition of receiving the proceeds, to waive any rights you may to decide to sue the estate or the executor in the future. Such waivers are best practice for an executor, but heirs are not required to waive their rights, so the decision is up to you. It may be best to sign anyway, to preserve the relationship and to receive your inheritance in a timely manner, but your ultimate recourse is to either convince the executor to drop the waiver, or object to the court.

NV Small Estate Rights

Most states have laws enabling small estates to be settled without full probate, sometimes without any court involvement at all. In such cases, there may be no formally appointed executor, and the heir can directly collect any inheritance to which he or she is entitled, by providing appropriate documentation to the current asset holders.

In Nevada, small estates can avoid full probate via small estate affidavit, small estate set aside, or simplified summary administration. Regardless of estate size, probate is not required if an estate contains only assets exempt from probate.

Small Estate Affidavit

If a Nevada estate has a gross value <$25,000 (or <$100K if the claimant is the surviving spouse), you can use a small estate affidavit to settle the estate with no court involvement.


To use the small estate affidavit approach, the following conditions must be true:

  • The combined gross value of relevant assets is <$25K (or <$100K if the claimant is the surviving spouse)
  • The estate includes no real property (i.e., real estate)
  • At least 40 days have passed since the death
  • The estate is solvent (i.e., will be able to pay all its debts)
  • No petition has already been made to the court to officially appoint a personal representative

In determining the gross value of the estate, you should value assets as of the date of death, and ignore any debts. Do not include vehicles in this calculation, do not include amounts due for services in the Armed Forces of the United States, and do not include any assets that would not normally go through probate, such as community property with right of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.


To use the small estate affidavit approach:

  1. Prepare a Small Estate Affidavit (see below)
  2. Ensure all estate debts are paid or arrangements have been made to pay them (perhaps once you collect estate assets)
  3. Notify every person whose right to succeed to the decedent’s property is equal or superior to yours, of your intention to use the affidavit to claim the property
  4. Wait at least 14 days after making the required notifications
  5. Obtain possession of the property by presenting the affidavit to current custodians
  6. Settle the estate in the normal way (ensure debts resolved and heirs have the appropriate assets)
  7. If you are transferring a vehicle, submit Form VP-24 to the DMV
  8. If everything goes smoothly, no court involvement will ever be required


You can use this Small Estate Affidavit Form provided the Nevada Treasurer.

If you are the surviving spouse, you can either modify the above form to reflect your increased limits, or use the Clark County Small Estate Affidavit Form, modifying it to mention your county instead.

Have the affidavit notarized and attach a copy of the death certificate and of the will (if one exists).

See NRS § 146.080.

Small Estate Set Aside

If the estate does not qualify to use a small estate affidavit, or if you simply want something a little bit more formal, you may be able to use the small estate set aside approach if the estate is worth <$100,000 after considering any family exemptions.


You can use a small estate set aside approach if the following are true:

  • The net value of the probate estate is <$100,000
  • At least 40 days have passed since the death

In determining the value of the estate, you should value assets as of the date of death, and subtract any debts. Do not include any assets that would not normally go through probate, such as community property with right of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.

Also exclude any homestead and personal exemptions (see NRS § 146.020).


To settle an estate via small estate set aside:

  1. Submit to the court a Petition to Prove Will and Set Aside Estate without Administration or a Petition to Set Aside Estate without Administration (these forms are from Clark County; check with your local court for any variations they prefer)
  2. Mail copies of the "Notice of Hearing" the court gives you to every known creditor and successor
  3. Publish a copy of the Notice of Hearing in a newspaper in general circulation in the county, once a week for 3 weeks, with the last publication at least 10 days before the hearing date
  4. Appear at the hearing, and obtain your requested court order
  5. Use the court order to collect estate assets, and then settle the estate according to the priority rules below

Settlement Priority Rules

If there is a surviving spouse or minor child, the law tries to ensure that they will have priority access to at least $100K. The court will normally order the entire estate to be set aside for the surviving family, possibly allowing the payment of some creditors if the family received other funds from the estate via non-probate transfers.

Otherwise, proceeds of the estate must be disbursed in the following priority order:

  • To pay any attorney’s fees and costs incurred relative to this proceeding
  • To pay any funeral expenses, expenses of last illness, and money owed to the Department of Health and Human Services as a result of payment of benefits for Medicaid and creditors
  • To pay other general debts
  • To the rightful successors as named in the will or determined by intestate succession

Note that Clark County publishes an excellent, detailed guide on setting aside a Nevada estate without administration.

See also NRS § 146.070.

Summary Administration

Summary Administration (also known as simplified probate) can be used for estates with a gross value <$300,000.


You can use summary administration if the gross value of the assets subject to probate, minus any encumbrances such as mortgages, is <$300,000. In determining the value of the estate, you should value assets as of the date of death, and ignore any unsecured debts (such as credit card debt). Do not include any assets that would not normally go through probate, such as community property with right of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.


To settle an estate via summary administration:

  1. Submit to the court a Petition for Summary Administration (see below)
  2. Provide at least 10 days notice of the resultant court hearing to the heirs of the decedent, anyone named in the will, any other personal representatives, and the Department of Health & Human Services
  3. File a Certificate of Mailing with the court asserting that you have made the required notices
  4. Upon approval, the court will issue you "Letters" (a document appointing you as personal representative of the estate)
  5. Use your "Letters" to collect estate assets
  6. Within 60 days of your appointment, file an estate inventory with the court (consider using the EstateExec Inventory Report)
  7. Within 10 days of filing the inventory, provide a copy to all heirs and successors, and file another Certificate of Mailing
  8. Notify creditors
  9. Pay any family allowances, estate debts, and administration expenses
  10. At least 60 days after notifying creditors, file a Final Account (consider using the EstateExec Accounting Report) and Petition for Distribution with the court
  11. Notify any unpaid creditors and all heirs and devisees of the resultant Closing Hearing, including the account and petition
  12. Upon approval, distribute the remaining estate to the rightful recipients


The petition must:

  • State the name, residence, and date of death of the decedent
  • List the name, age for a minor, relationship to the decedent, and last-known address of each heir (family) and legatee (people named in the will to inherit)
  • Describe the property of the decedent, including the character and estimated value
  • State whether the person to be appointed as personal representative has been convicted of a felony
  • Request a summary administration

Attach a copy of the death certificate and of the will (if one exists).

See NRS § 145.010 et seq.

Estate Settlement Considerations

Before paying any debts or making any distributions, be sure to account for any Family Entitlements in NV, which typically have priority over everything except expenses of the last illness, funeral charges, and any estate administrations expenses.

Even if the estate does not go through probate, you may still be entitled to Executor Compensation in NV, and this compensation also has priority over most estate debts.

Estate debts have priority over most distributions in turn, so before distributing assets you should resolve any estate debts. If the estate makes any distributions beyond amounts set aside for family entitlements, unpaid creditors have the right to sue the recipients for repayment using those excess distributions. Consequently, even if the settlement process does not require you to publish a Notice to Creditors, you may want to follow NV probate rules for finding estate debts, since doing so may limit the time creditors have to pursue repayment.

If estate solvency is uncertain, an executor should consider going through official probate for the increased creditor protection it offers. Alternately, such uncertainty can sometimes persuade creditors to forgive a portion of debts, since they will want to avoid legal expenses as well, and may prefer to get something rather than nothing.

See also Making Distributions.


In Nevada, the local District Court handles wills and estate matters.

Estate Debts

Finally, note that as an heir, you are NOT responsible for paying the debts of the NV estate out of your own funds. You do NOT inherit responsibility for paying the debts of parents, for example. If the estate is insolvent (i.e., cannot pay all its bills), then creditors simply end up with less than owed, or even nothing ... as do you.

If an estate ends up being insolvent, and you somehow received a distribution anyway (perhaps through a small estate process), some states allow creditors to sue you to reclaim any amounts they are still owed. So you can't inherit a debt outright, but if you receive a distribution that the estate needed to pay its bills, you may be forced to pay out some or all of that distribution.

Additional Information

For more information about inheritances in general, see EstateExec Heir Guide.

In case you're interested, heir rights in other states can be found here:

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