Essentially, probate is the process of going to court to clear the title to a decedent’s assets and to distribute them to the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs, after all, debts, expenses and taxes are paid.  Probate requires a person to (1) file a petition to admit the will to probate (when the decedent had a will), prove the will and be appointed as personal representative of the estate; (2) determine the identity and location of the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs; (3) publish a notice to creditors; (4) prepare and file an inventory of the decedent’s assets; (5) obtain appraisals for all of the decedent’s properties; (6) liquidate assets which should be sold; (7) settle all of the decedent’s debts; (8) pay any estate or income taxes which may be due; (9) account to the court for all monies spent during the probate; (10) distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries or heirs; (11) obtain and file receipts from the beneficiaries and file them with the court; and (12) prepare and file an order of discharge. 

If this sounds burdensome, time-consuming and expensive, it’s because it truly is.

HOW LONG DOES PROBATE TAKE?

If the estate is relatively uncomplicated and is uncontested, probates typically take six months to one year to complete.

HOW MUCH DOES PROBATE COST?

Probates in Nevada generally cost 5% of the value of the estate.  Court rules allow attorneys and personal representatives to receive 4% to 1% (on a sliding scale) of the estate for their services.  Additionally, there are court costs, publication fees, appraisal and accounting expenses.

WHEN IS PROBATE REQUIRED?

Probate is required in all cases where a person dies owning $20,000 or more of assets which are titled in the decedent’s name only, regardless of whether the decedent had a will.  Many people confuse the $5,250,000 federal estate tax exemption as being the threshold amount required for probate.  They have the mistaken idea that if their estates are less than $5,250,000, no probate is necessary.  This clearly is not the case.  If a decedent’s estate is less than $5,250,000, there will be no federal estate tax.  However, if he or she dies owning assets totaling $20,000 or more which are titled in his name only, a probate is required.

DOESN’T A WILL AVOID PROBATE?

No.  It facilitates the probate process but does not avoid probate.

WHERE SHOULD AN ESTATE BE PROBATED?

A probate must be done in the county where the decedent lived at the time of his death.  If the decedent owned real estate in any other state, an additional or ancillary probate is required in that state also.