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Your parent died without a will. What happens now?

Did you know that more people across the country don't have a will than do? Many of those people without a will live here in Las Vegas. If you recently lost a parent, it's possible that he or she failed to execute a will and died "intestate," which means without a will.

Without a will, Nevada's intestate laws will govern who inherits your parent's property. Even so, a probate may still be required in order to close the estate and distribute your parent's property.

Who handles probate tasks in the absence of a will?

The distribution of assets serves as the biggest difference between a probate involving a will versus one not involving a will. In each case, the court appoints someone to handle the tasks required in order to close an estate. With a will, the deceased individual chose an executor who the court will often simply appoint. Without a will, the court appoints a personal representative.

If you wish to serve in this capacity, you would offer your services, and the court would either approve or deny your request. In some cases, more than one person may want to serve as the personal representative, and the court would then choose the person believed best suited for the job.

What tasks does the personal representative handle?

As the personal representative of your parent's estate, you would be responsible for the following duties:

  • Collecting and valuing your parent's assets
  • Paying the estate's debts and taxes
  • Handling any claims against the estate
  • Handling any legal disputes regarding the estate
  • Taking care of any other expenses of the estate

You will also be responsible for identifying and locating your parent's heirs. Ordinarily, this would include a surviving spouse, his or her children or parents, along with other blood relatives. The state's intestate laws determine how much of the estate each party would receive.

Distant relatives will probably not be eligible for an inheritance if a spouse and/or children are alive. Therefore, there would be no legal reason to identify them as possible recipients. After you distribute the estate's remaining assets, the court will issue an order officially closing the estate. Several factors determine how long this process will take, which could be months under normal circumstances. Any legal disputes involving the estate could extend that time considerably.

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