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What happens if I die without making a will?

For one reason or another, many people never get around to making a will. If this happens, the state takes over distribution of property in a process called intestate succession. The point of this is to pass on assets in a way the average person would. Each state has their own laws surrounding intestacy.

The basis of these laws is that close relatives should be included in the will, not distant relatives. In Nevada, these include children and siblings, adopted or biological, plus parents and your spouse. If there are no close relatives to speak of, the estate goes to the state. Here is a quick breakdown of Nevada’s intestacy laws. To simplify things, these are all written as if you were the recently deceased.

  • If only one group (parents, children, siblings or spouse) survived you, they get everything. If there are children but no spouse, the children are the sole heirs, regardless of parents and siblings.
  • If a spouse and children survive you, the spouse will get all of your property you had together (community property), plus a half or third of property they owned alone (separate property). The children get the rest of it. Parents and siblings get nothing.
  • For spouse plus parents, no children, the spouse gets all of your community property, plus half of the separate property. The parents get the rest. It is the same for a spouse plus siblings.
  • Half-relatives are treated the same as full relatives.

Intestacy laws can become very complicated; to learn more, you should contact an experienced attorney. If you want to avoid getting the state involved, writing a will can make sure everyone, including distant relatives, gets exactly what you wish to leave them when you pass away.

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