If you or a loved one passes away without a will, commonly known as “dying intestate,” the estate is distributed according to Nevada’s intestate succession laws. The state of Nevada will appoint someone to serve as your personal representative who will be in charge of paying your outstanding taxes and other debts and distributing the estate. If there are no surviving relatives, either residing in Nevada or elsewhere, the Clark County Public Administrator will distribute the estate.
Before the assets of an estate can be distributed, the estate must be probated. This means that property deeds, valuable items, account statements, and cash monies will be gathered and calculated. Outstanding debts and taxes will be paid out of the estate and the remaining assets will be distributed in accordance with state law. If you die intestate, the public administrator must follow intestate succession law and will have no idea how you might have wished to have your assets distributed. But having an impersonal public administrator manage your estate is not the only reason you should have a will.
You may want your children or grandchildren to be mature enough to handle an inheritance. Your will can provide stipulations that put your money in trust until your heirs need money for higher education, are of legal age, or until any time or life event you deem appropriate. On the other hand, you may not be close to your family or they may not need an inheritance. Perhaps you have good friends or charities with whom you would prefer to share your wealth.
- When a public administrator distributes your estate, they don’t take tax laws into consideration. However, if your will specifies an executor, he or she can set up distributions that will be tax advantageous for your heirs. A qualified attorney can help you determine the best way for your inheritance to be shared and/or distributed in order to avoid tax pitfalls.
- When a person dies without a will in the state of Nevada and there are no heirs, probated assets are surrendered to the State. Before this happens, the Clerk County Public Administrator must make an effort to locate heirs and wait six years before disbursing them to the State. Even though your loved ones may be difficult to find, you may still prefer for them to inherit your estate rather than have it revert to the State.
You may think you have no real assets to distribute and don’t need a will. It might surprise you, however, to learn that the 401(k) plan you’re not monitoring or the childhood stamp collection you’ve forgotten about has ballooned in value. Seek legal help from an attorney with experience in probate and estate planning to help you make the most of the assets you have worked so hard to accumulate throughout your life. It will serve you and your loved ones best if you have a legally binding will and/or living trust in place.