If you ask the average person why they should create a last will, they may respond that an estate plan can help you avoid probate court. For many people, keeping an estate out of court is a planning goal, but for those with sizable estates, it may not be feasible in Nevada.
Probate court has the important role of reviewing someone’s estate, validating a last will or estate plan, enforcing the contents of a last will, and divvying up assets in a situation where someone dies without an estate plan. Every state has its own approach to probate, and estate planning strategies that may work in one state to help someone avoid probate will not work in others.
For those with sizable estates, truly avoiding probate court in Nevada is nearly impossible. According to Nevada probate law, all estates with a total value of $20,000 or more, as well as any estates with real estate included in their inventory of assets, must go through probate court.
Is there a strategy to help high-asset estates avoid probate in Nevada?
To many people, the idea of going through probate court conjures up the idea of substantial delays in access to the assets and the potential loss of funds due to expensive attorney fees and court costs. However, given how strict Nevada is about requiring probate proceedings, the courts are also relatively efficient at reviewing estates in a timely manner.
For those intent on avoiding probate court in Nevada, the only strategy, other than securing residency in another state and attempting to file a last will in that state instead of in Nevada, would be to divest yourself of substantial assets strategically over many years to reduce the value of your estate. Gifts to loved ones or the transfer of assets, like your home, into a trust, can help achieve this goal.
Once the assets included in your estate are worth $10,000 or less, it is possible to ask the courts to set aside the estate, thereby allowing you to avoid probate proceedings. However, for those with large estates, it may not be possible to gift assets to family members in high enough amounts to avoid probate in the future.
How probate protects your estate
Instead of feeling frustrated and upset by the fact that you likely can’t avoid probate for your Nevada estate, it might help to view the process as something that benefits you and your loved ones. The intent behind mandatory probate is to protect testators and heirs.
Requiring sizable estates to go through probate can help reduce the likelihood of fraud, as the courts must always validate the contents of a last will prior to formalizing the administration of an estate. Additionally, going through probate court helps ensure that there is some degree of oversight for the administrator or trustee managing your estate’s administration.