There’s no way to predict with 100% certainty when your spouse or elderly parent is going to die. In either situation, there may come a time when you must navigate the probate process, which can be complex and stressful for someone who is not well-versed in Nevada estate administration and probate laws. For instance, if your loved one dies without having executed a will, his or her assets become intestate, which affects asset distribution.
What does the term “intestate” mean?
If you execute a last will and testament, you can name heirs or beneficiaries to receive your assets after your die. Many people die without ever signing a last will and testament, however. In such cases, their estates face administration through probate intestacy laws.
When an estate becomes intestate, a probate court determines how to distribute the decedent’s assets. A probate court judge typically appoints someone to be the administrator of the probate process.
As an administrator, you’ll have numerous responsibilities, such as locating the decedent’s assets and notifying creditors to whom he or she owed a debt, as well as identifying heirs to his or her estate.
Some types of assets do not pass through probate court
Nevada happens to be a community property state. Therefore, if your spouse were to die without having signed a will, you’d no doubt still be entitled to retain ownership of 50% of all marital property and assets.
There are several other types of assets for which there would be no need for a probate court to intervene to determine who should receive the assets in question. For instance, your loved one may have had a bank account that included a “payable upon death” provision. This means that there’s an existing contract that provides the legal means by which to transfer assets to a beneficiary or heir.
Discuss probate issues ahead of time
You might have a spouse or parent who tries to avoid discussions of mortality. This can make it challenging to prepare for the future. It is a good idea, if possible, to discuss estate and probate matters, so that you can make informed decisions if the need arises.
Each state has its own estate planning and probate laws, especially regarding intestacy issues, appointment of an administrator and asset distribution. It’s possible that a judge may appoint you to administrate the probate process of a loved one who resided in another state from your place of residence. It is important to seek clarification of the laws in the state of residence of a decedent.