Probate for Small NV Estates

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In Nevada, small estates can avoid full probate via small estate affidavit, small estate set aside, or simplified summary administration.

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.

Requirements

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 rights of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.

Process

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

Affidavit

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.

Requirements

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 rights 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).

Process

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.

Requirements

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 rights of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.

Process

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

Petition

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 NV Family Entitlements, which typically have priority over everything except expenses of the last illness, funeral charges, and any estate administrations expenses.

Estate debts have priority over most distributions in turn, so you should arrange to have all debts resolved before distributing assets. Unpaid estate creditors have the right to sue heirs for the value of any distributions received using the approaches described on this page.

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.

Court

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

See also General Probate.

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