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Probate is the legal process of distributing assets of a deceased person’s estate and paying any debts owed by the person prior to their death. The length of time it takes to settle legal matters often varies depending on the specifics of the case, and probate is no different. While families are often dealing with the emotions associated with the loss of a loved one, going through the probate process can add to that stress and emotion. Understanding the probate process and knowing what to expect, in addition to the support of an experienced lawyer, can help ease some of the negative feelings you might be experiencing at this time.
Probate is required in Nevada for any assets that haven’t been placed in a living trust prior to the death of a loved one when an estate is valued at over $300,000. The first step in probate is filing a petition with the court. The judge will review the petition to verify it meets the requirements of general administration and will appoint an administrator to oversee the estate as it goes through probate. The judge usually selects a beneficiary or relative to be the administrator if one does not petition for the position.
The administrator of the estate is required to notify creditors of the deceased and allow them up to 3 months to file claims. Once any debts are paid, the administrator can distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries and file a report with the court outlining how the assets were handled. If a valid will was in place, the administrator distributes the assets in accordance with the will. If there was no will, Nevada law follows “intestate succession” laws when it comes to distributing assets following a person’s death:
This depends on the size of the estate as well as the complexities surrounding the heirs of the estate. On average, the “general administration” probate process takes around 9-12 months in Nevada. Part of the probate process allows creditors to submit claims, which they have 3 months to do, meaning the minimum amount of time will be shortly over 3 months for an uncomplicated case.
For complex cases, such as extremely valuable estates or those with many disputes from possible heirs, probate can take years. If a will is contested, a trial will likely be involved, which can be a lengthy process from scheduling through determination. Contesting a will in Nevada requires evidence that the will was invalid for some reason, so a person cannot just contest a will because they are unhappy with its terms.
Some estates can avoid probate, depending on their value. Discuss your situation with an attorney if you think any of these apply to you:
If you don’t meet any of the above requirements but are still looking for a way to make the probate process go as quickly as possible, consider the help of a lawyer. Probate can be complex, especially if disputes are involved, and the representation of a skilled probate lawyer can make for a smoother experience. Even without disputes, there are timelines to follow and specific paperwork to file that can be overwhelming without the knowledge of a probate attorney. If deadlines are missed or requirements are not fulfilled, the process can take longer than necessary. While processing the loss of a loved one, managing timelines and learning an unfamiliar legal process can be difficult, so hiring an attorney is something to consider.
As you’re going through probate after losing a loved one, you may be wondering what you can do to help your family avoid this process in the future. One way to avoid probate is by setting up a trust that allows you to stipulate how your assets are distributed after your death. This involves creating a trust document and putting your assets in the ownership of a trust which eliminates the need for probate, as the assets are not in your name, but in the name of the trust. An attorney can help you establish a trust in hopes of avoiding lengthy probate proceedings in the future.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one and are trying to navigate the complexities of the probate process, allow Ken R. Ashworth & Associates to help. We are experienced in estate planning and probate law and understand you and your family are dealing with a lot during this difficult time. We treat our clients with care and compassion and help them through the probate process to relieve some stress they might be experiencing as they grieve the loss of a loved one. Contact us today to discuss your situation and learn how to get through the probate process as quickly as possible.