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Having an established will to dictate the division of your real estate and personal property in the event of a death is one of the most important things you can provide for your family ahead of time. Your family will already be grieving, so having a will can provide legal directions as to exactly how you wanted your affairs handled without laying any additional stress on your loved ones. Leaving behind a valid will can also legally protect your spouse, children, or other family members and assets.
Under Nevada law, anyone over the age of 18 with sound mind can create a valid will. While the age requirement of 18 is pretty straightforward, the requirement of sound mind is a little broad. According to Nevada law, a person with a sound mind is someone who has not been affected by insanity.
This typically means that the state court has not deemed the individual incompetent during previous legal proceedings. The court may also choose to extend the definition of sound mind to the elderly or individuals with mental disabilities to ensure that they are not being taken advantage of and that all estate proceedings are in their best interest.
To execute the division of your estate without any issues, it’s generally encouraged that you hire an estate planning attorney to craft and execute your will. However, it is perfectly legal in the state of Nevada to handwrite your own will. A holographic, or handwritten, will is considered a valid will as long as it is signed by the testator, or owner of the will. Other samples of the testator’s handwriting will be compared to the holographic will to ensure its validity.
This may seem like a fairly straightforward way to create a will, but leaving a holographic will for your family can be extremely problematic. If there are concerns about the validity of the holographic will or suspicions arise between family members, it is very likely that it will be contested in court.
It is also important to remember that most holographic wills are not typically created with the assistance of an attorney. While Nevada does not require you to have a lawyer when creating your will, it is incredibly helpful to have counsel when navigating complex financial, medical, and landowning information.
In Nevada, a will is not legally valid unless it is written, either by hand or typed, and signed on a physical paper copy. If you’d like to leave a video will for your loved ones, that’s something that your estate planning attorney can arrange.
In some instances, Nevada does consider electronic wills, or e-wills, to be valid. However, there are lengthy, complex requirements to meet for your e-will to be valid. Because there are so many elaborate details that go into the creation of an electronic will, they are still incredibly rare.
Electronic copies of an existing will are considered valid, as long as there is a physical copy of the original will still be easily accessible.
In Nevada, you do not need to have your will notarized for it to be valid. However, if you would like your will to have “self-proving” status, you will need to have it notarized. A self-proving will is advantageous because it no longer requires the contacting of original witnesses, which speeds up the legal process of settling the estate. For a will to achieve a self-proving status, it must be signed by witnesses under the penalty of perjury or have it signed and notarized through a separate legal statement. If you choose to go the route of a separate affidavit, you will then need to have your will notarized.
Nevada does not require wills to have a named executor to be valid, but it is highly recommended. If the testator does not distinctly name an executor, the state court system will appoint someone you do not know to divide the contents of the estate. Naming an executor in advance typically makes for a smoother transition and less stress on your family.
To finalize the terms of your will and make it valid in court, it must be signed. You must sign your will in front of two witnesses, and they must, in turn, sign it in front of you. Because Nevada courts can deem certain gifts or payments invalid if the receiving individual has acted as a witness, it is essential that you use witnesses who are not going to inherit anything from you.
If a will is not created by someone over the age of 18 with sound mind, documented as a physical copy, and signed by the testator and witnesses, it is invalid. If you would like to revoke or change your will, you can do so at any time by:
If you are considering creating a will or making changes to an existing one, it’s essential for you and your family’s protection that you speak to a reputable Las Vegas, Nevada area estate management attorney before taking your next steps. The legal team at Ken R. Ashworth & Associates is experienced in the area of estate planning and is here to walk you and your family through the process. For more information about the validity of your will, understanding an existing one, or planning your family’s estate, visit our website, and contact us for a consultation today.