At Boyer Law Group in Las Vegas, Nevada, we help guide our clients to ensure a smooth transfer of assets to heirs and beneficiaries. Following the death of a loved one, you need that peace of mind.
Probate Is Easier Than You Think
While many clients come to our office assuming that probate is complex and lengthy, the entire process is not that difficult. Even without an estate plan, we can help you get through probate depending on the nature of the estate and the possibility of disputes among the heirs.
Getting You through The Probate Process
At Boyer Law Group, we recognize the need for estate planning and asset protection. However, there are occasions when the deceased did not take those necessary steps. Grieving the loss of a loved one is emotional. You do not need to deal with the additional burden of probate on your own. We try to make the process as easy as possible for you. We will work with you and other affected family members so you can all get on with your lives.
The Need For Estate Planning And Asset Protection After Probate
Once the probate process is completed, you and other beneficiaries may be in need of your own estate planning or updated estate planning. A sudden financial windfall requires careful steps to manage your inheritance properly. We can help you protect those assets and establish a will and trust. Those proactive steps benefit you and the heirs you leave behind as well.
Contact Us About Your Probate Matter
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced lawyer about the probate process, please contact us either through a call to our Las Vegas office at 702-255-2000 or a message through our online contact form.
Probate Process FAQ
Does having a will avoid probate in Nevada?
Having a will does not mean that an estate avoids probate. Whether an asset is subject to the probate process depends upon how the asset is titled. Assets titled solely in the name of the deceased person, without a beneficiary designation must go through the probate process, if assets are over the threshold amount.
How do I know whether an asset needs to be probated?
In determining what happens to a specific asset, it is necessary to ascertain how that asset is titled.
1. Joint tenancy. Assets held in joint tenancy pass directly to the surviving joint tenant or joint tenants without the need for probate. The surviving joint tenant should take steps to remove the name of the decedent from the asset. For real property, a surviving joint tenant should have prepared and recorded an affidavit terminating joint tenancy. For bank accounts, a surviving joint tenant should present a certified death certificate to the bank and request removal of the deceased joint tenant. Alternatively, the account may be closed and all the proceeds withdrawn. For vehicles, the surviving joint tenant should present a certified death certificate to the Department of Motor Vehicles. For manufactured homes, the surviving joint tenant should present a certified death certificate to the Department of Manufactured Housing.
2. Payable on Death/Transfer on Death Property. Many types of financial accounts can have a payable on death or transfer on death designation. These accounts will pass directly to the named beneficiary without the need for probate. The named beneficiary should send a death certificate and a letter of instruction directly to the financial institution with instructions on distribution. For real property with a beneficiary deed recorded, one of the named beneficiaries should record an affidavit along with a certified death certificate.
3. IRAs/Annuities/Life Insurance. These types of assets frequently have a named beneficiary, and will pass directly to the named beneficiary without the need for probate. The named beneficiary should send a death certificate and a letter of instruction directly to the financial institution with instructions on distribution. If the named beneficiary is deceased, or there is no named beneficiary, then the asset would be subject to the probate process.
4. Trust Assets. For assets titled in a trust, the successor Trustee will need to administer those according to the terms of the trust. Trusts assets do not have to go through probate.
5. Assets subject to probate. Assets that must go through probate are those titled solely in the name of the decedent without any beneficiary designation. Assets that do not go through probate include those held in joint tenancy, assets in trusts, life insurance or retirement accounts with beneficiary designations, or assets with a payable on death designation. If the total assets held solely in the decedent’s name, without a beneficiary designation, exceeds $25,000.00 (or $100,000.00 for spouses), excluding the value of motor vehicles, a court order is needed to distribute those assets only.
What are the general steps in going through the probate process?
The first step is to determine whether a probate is required. As discussed above, a probate is only required for assets titled solely in the name of the decedent without any beneficiary designation. Assets that do not go through probate include those held in joint tenancy, assets in trusts, life insurance or retirement accounts with beneficiary designations, or assets with a payable on death designation. If a probate is required, a general overview of the probate process in Nevada follows.
1. The original will, if any, must be filed with the clerk within thirty days from the date of death.
2. The appropriate petition must be filed in probate court in order to appoint the personal representative. If the total value of the assets does not exceed $100,000.00, a petition to set aside may be filed.
3. You should secure all property, compile an inventory of all assets, and obtain valuation of the assets as of the date of death. You will need to timely file the inventory with the probate court.
4. You should compile a list of all the debts of the decedent. A Notice to Creditors must be published in a local newspaper. This will cut off the claims of any creditors who fail to file a claim. In order to be valid as a charge against the assets of the estate, when a notice has been filed, a creditor’s claim must be presented within 60 or 90 days after the first publication of the notice. You should not make any distributions of assets until the Notice to Creditors period has expired, and all other aspects of estate administration are completed.
5. It is generally best to open an estate checking account, and pay all bills from the estate checking account so you can track all expenditures. You will need to obtain an EIN number from the IRS before you open this account.
6. You must file the appropriate tax returns.
7. If you sell real property during the probate, there are many steps to follow.
8. You cannot make any distribution to heirs without a court order. If you want to make a partial distribution before the final decree of distribution, you must petition the probate court for approval and only after the notice to creditor period has run.
9. You should file all the proper tax returns. If there was sufficient gross income, the decedent’s final income tax return, covering the period beginning on January 1 and ending on the date of death, must be timely filed and any tax paid. If you are the surviving spouse, you may file jointly for the year your spouse dies. A federal estate income tax return (Form 1041) for income received by the estate will be required for each year in which the income of the estate exceeds the threshold amount. For large estates, a federal estate tax return may be needed as well as making any portability elections. Please see your tax advisor.
10. You must file a final account with the probate court listing any income to estate since death, listing all expenses, and changes in value of assets. The final accounting can be submitted after the notice to creditors has expired. Once the probate court approves the final account, the personal representative can distribute the assets to the heirs after the debts have been paid, any taxes paid and tax returns prepared, and expenses of administration paid.
11. You need to obtain receipts from all of the heirs who receive any assets. Once you file all the receipts with the probate court, the court will provide an order for final discharge.
What are other tasks that should to be handled?
1. Order death certificates. The funeral home directors will assist initially with ordering death certificates. Additional certificates can be ordered later, for a fee, from Southern Nevada Health District located at 330 S. Valley View Blvd., Las Vegas, Nevada 89152 (located between Alta Drive and Meadows Lane). For more information, you may visit www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org.
2. Address any Social Security or pension. At the time the death certificate is processed with a funeral home, the Social Security Administration is notified electronically that a death has occurred. It may be advisable to contact a local Social Security Office to schedule an appointment to discuss claiming survivor benefits. The social security payment for the month in which the decedent died must be returned to Social Security Administration. If it is a direct deposit of those funds, the Social Security Administration will automatically withdraw the funds from the account where it was deposited, so you should keep enough funds in that account to cover this indebtedness. It is also necessary to notify any pension company that the decedent has passed away. Some pension companies, but not all, also request that the pension for the month in which the deceased individual passed away be returned. You should discuss this with the pension company.
3. Contact credit bureaus. We recommend that you forward a photo copy of the death certificate to the three (3) credit bureaus. When notifying the credit bureaus of a death, request the credit report to be flagged as “Deceased, Do Not Issue Credit.” The correspondence should include your name, contact information and relationship to the decedent. If you are the court-appointed representative of the estate, you should also include proof of your court appointment.