Jennifer Mahe: Are there different types of probate?
In the state of Nevada there are several different types of probate which require different processes and involve different levels of court oversight. The easiest way to imagine the types of probate is to think of them as different levels of probate, the levels being dependent upon the value of the estate at issue. Thus, if an individual dies leaving an estate which is subject to probate, the type of probate is determined by the value of the total assets owned by the deceased individual minus any debts they owed.
The first level of probate applies to estates that are worth $20,000 or less and don’t involve any real property. For estates that qualify for this level of probate, no court proceeding is necessary. The only requirement is the individual entitled to the deceased’s estate provide notice to all persons with a claim to the estate and execute an affidavit swearing to all required legal elements, such as a statement all decedents’ debts have been paid. The affidavit can then be provided to the institution retaining the deceased’s assets, for example a bank with a bank account in the name of the deceased, and the assets can be transferred to the appropriate individual.
The second level of probate, for a small estate valued at $100,000 or less, requires a Petition to Set Aside be filed with the Court. A Petition to Set Aside establishes various elements regarding the estate including a representation the estate is a small estate and to whom the estate should be distributed. Following the filing of the Petition, generally one court appearance is necessary. Moreover, the appropriate legal notices must be provided to all heirs and devisees as well as to the Department of Health and Human Services. After the court hearing and the issuance of an order by the court, the estate is simply set aside to the appropriate individuals.
The third level, for a medium estate valued between $100,001 and $200,000, is referred to as a Summary Administration. This process allows for administration of the estate with slightly more detail and oversight than a Petition to Set Aside but without requiring the full timelines of a complete probate. Through this process, notices will be provided to all heirs and devisees and the Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, a notice to creditors will be issued and published. However, the time frame for a creditor response will be shorter than the time frame required in a full probate. Following the expiration of the notice to creditors an accounting can be filed with the court and, following an order of the court, the estate can be distributed. This process generally requires two hearings before the court and several different court filings.
The final level, for larger estates valued at greater than $200,000, requires the completion of a full probate. A full probate requires the issuance of letters of administration to an individual appointed by the court to administer the estate. The administrator thereafter must locate all assets and debts of the decedent and provide the court with an inventory and one or more accountings of the expenses and income of the estate. Once the administrator ensures all debts are paid and obtains court authority to distribute the estate, the assets may be distributed to the appropriate individuals. The entirety of this process is overseen by the court and thus notices are provided on several occasions to all heirs and devisees as well as to the Department of Health and Human Services. Notice to creditors will be issued and published and several hearings and filings will be required.
Jennifer Mahe has practiced law in the Northern Nevada area since 2005 focusing on general civil matters such as real estate, business, litigation and estate planning. She can be reached either via the Mahe Law, Ltd. website, http://www.mahelaw.com, or at 775-461-0992. If you have a legal topic related to general civil law which you would like to see addressed in this column in the future please send that topic to the Nevada Appeal.