Do I need an attorney’s help with probate?

| Feb 8, 2019 | Firm News

You face many decisions when a loved one dies. One of those decisions is how to handle their final affairs.

Things to consider include:

  • If there is a will
  • The size of the estate, including property and business interests
  • Any dissention among those with claims on the estate

The probate process

After a death, a petition for probate must be filed in the county where the deceased lived. The petition cites the will and the will’s executor. If there is no will naming an executor, the court will appoint one – usually a surviving spouse or adult child.

Notice must to be sent to all heirs and beneficiaries. A notice must also be published in the newspaper near where the deceased lived to give creditors three months to file claims against the estate.

The executor next gathers and values the estate’s assets – including business interests and partnerships – and files the list with the court. Then the executor pays outstanding bills and taxes (Note: Unlike some states, Nevada has no state inheritance or estate tax). Next, the executor files a petition to close probate. After the court issues that order, the executor distributes anything left to heirs and beneficiaries.

There are some exceptions

Not all estates must go through probate. An estate can qualify for a “small estate” exemption if the gross value is less than $100,000.

Also, not all assets are included in probate – some transfer automatically when your loved one dies:

  • If a property is owned jointly, then the second person inherits the property.
  • If the deceased is married, property goes to the surviving spouse.
  • Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, bank accounts and brokerage accounts go to named beneficiaries.
  • The assets in any living trust are distributed to the beneficiaries by the trustee.

Do you need an attorney to help with probate? Unless the estate is very small, there are no complications from businesses and partnerships, there are no competing interests among heirs and descendants, the assets outweigh the debts and you have a firm grasp on all the necessary paperwork, then the answer is yes, you should seek advice from qualified legal counsel.