Estate Planning For The Long Run

What happens if you die without a last will in Nevada?

Some people think that last wills and estate plans only matter if you have a large estate. However, an estate plan can benefit anyone, including those with modest estates. Regardless of the size of a persons' estate, all kinds of people can benefit from estate plans, including those who have people who depend on them, those who own real estate, those who have charitable inclinations, and those who do not have children, just to name a few.

If you die without a last will and testament in Nevada, the state defines that as dying intestate, which means that the Nevada's laws will determine who is responsible to administer your estate and who your heirs will be, which will likely be handled in a probate court proceeding. Depending on the value of your estate and your personal relationships, this process could become unnecessarily time consuming and expense, and the wrong people could end up being involved in handling your estate and/or inheriting from your estate.

Nevada's community property laws affect your estate

If you have a spouse, then the spouse shares in your ownership interest for the various assets that you've accumulated during the marriage. Even if you were the one to purchase them and your name is the only one on the account, your spouse probably still has an interest in those possessions, barring a prenuptial agreement or similar agreements and estate planning documents that dictate those assets are your separate property, as opposed to community property with your spouse. Under Nevada law, community property always goes to a surviving spouse. But separate property is not as clear.

Regarding a person's separate property, in the event that you do not have children or other surviving close family members, your spouse will likely receive all of your estate. If you have no children but have surviving parents, your spouse will receive half of your estate, while your parents will receive the other half. Even if your parents are divorced, they can each receive a quarter of your estate. If your parents have died but you have siblings, your siblings may split the half that does not go to your spouse.

The number of children you have can also impact what your spouse receives. If you have one child, your spouse would receive half of the total value of your estate, with the other half going to your child. If you have more than one child, your spouse would receive a third of your estate, with the remaining two-thirds getting split between your children, regardless of the number of children you have.

If you don't have dependents, the state could take everything

In the event that you don't have a surviving spouse, children, or other close family members, then distant relatives, even if unknown to you, could inherit from your estate, or if no descendants can be identified, the state of Nevada may be entitled to your estate. 

Creating a last will and testament can help ensure that your assets go to the persons or organizations that you desire, as well as ensure that the right persons handle the administration of your estate. Rarely do the laws of intestacy reflect a person's desires when it comes to the administration of their estate.

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