Making a Will in Nevada

How to make a will in Nevada and what can happen if you don't.

By , Attorney · University of Arkansas School of Law

Steps to Create a Will in Nevada

Here's a quick checklist for making a will in Nevada:

  1. Decide what property to include in your will.
  2. Decide who will inherit your property.
  3. Choose an executor to handle your estate.
  4. Choose a guardian for your children.
  5. Choose someone to manage children's property.
  6. Make your will.
  7. Sign your will in front of witnesses.
  8. Store your will safely.

Why Should I Make a Nevada Will?

A will, also called a "last will and testament," can help you protect your family and your property. You can use a will to:

  • leave your property to people or organizations
  • name a personal guardian to care for your minor children
  • name a trusted person to
  • manage property you leave to minor children, and
  • name an executor, the person who makes sure that the terms of your will are carried out.

What Happens if I Don't Have a Will?

In Nevada, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to state "intestacy" laws. Nevada's intestacy law gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you have neither a spouse nor children, your grandchildren or your parents will get your property. This list continues with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. If the court exhausts this list to find that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will in Nevada?

No. You can make your own will in Nevada, using Nolo's Quicken WillMaker. However, you may want to consult a lawyer in some situations. For example, if you think that your will might be contested or you have especially complicated goals, you should talk with an attorney. See Do I Need an Attorney to Make My Estate Plan?

What Are the Requirements for Making a Will in Nevada?

To make a will in Nevada, you must be:

Your will disposes of all your estate, including real property and personal property, subject to your debts. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 133.020.

You must generally make your will on hard copy. However, Nevada does recognize electronic wills in digital formats (See below "Can I Make a Digital or Electronic Will?,"). Nevada law specifically prohibits oral or nuncupative wills. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 133.100. Nevada does recognize holographic wills, but they are usually not a good idea.

How Do I Sign my Nevada Will?

To finalize your will in Nevada:

Use witnesses who will not inherit anything through your will. A court could invalidate gifts you leave to someone who acts as the witness to your will. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 133.060.

To make a valid holographic will, you must include all material provisions, the date, and the signature in your own handwriting. These wills do not need to be witnessed. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 133.090.

Do I Need to Have My Will Notarized?

No, in Nevada, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal.

However, Nevada allows you to make your will "self-proving," and you may need a notary for that. A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it. In Nevada, there are two ways to make your will self-proving. You can have your witnesses 1) sign your will under penalty of perjury or 2) sign and have notarized a separate affidavit. Either way, your witnesses must swear that:

  • you declared the document to be your will
  • you signed the will in their presence
  • they witnessed you signing it
  • they signed the will in your presence and in the presence of each other, and
  • you appeared to be an adult of sound mind and memory.

    Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 133.050.

    If you use an affidavit, in the affidavit, the witnesses must swear to these statements and their signatures must be notarized. If you use a declaration, the statements can be written "under penalty of perjury" in the witnessing clause of the will.

    Should My Will Name an Executor?

    Yes. In Nevada, you can use your will to name an executor who will ensure that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death. Nolo's Quicken WillMaker produces a letter to your executor that generally explains what the job requires. If you don't name an executor, the probate court will appoint someone to take on the job of winding up your estate.

    Can I Revoke or Change My Will?

    In Nevada, you may revoke or change your will at any time. You can revoke your will by:

    • burning, tearing, canceling, or obliterating the will with the intent to revoke it
    • ordering someone else to burn, tear, cancel, or obliterate the will in front of you, or
    • making another will that revokes the old will. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 133.120.

    You can revoke an electronic will by:

    • canceling, obliterating, or making the will unreadable with the intention of revoking it
    • ordering the custodian of the will to cancel, obliterate, or make the will unreadable, or
    • making another electronic will or written will that revokes the old will. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 133.120.

    If you marry someone after you make your will, your will may be automatically revoked unless:

    • you have a separate marriage contract that provides for your spouse
    • your will has language that says this should not happen and names your future spouse, or
    • you provide for your spouse by a non-probate transfer that you made instead of a gift in your will. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 133.110.

    If your will is revoked because of your marriage, your spouse receives whatever he or she would have received if you died without a will. Any remaining provisions in your will that are not affected by this change stay in effect, including who you named as your executor.

    If you and your spouse divorce (or if a court determines that your marriage is not legal), Nevada law revokes any language in your will that leaves property to your spouse or names your spouse to be your executor. This rule applies unless the divorce court orders otherwise or you and your spouse have a property or separation agreement that states otherwise and the divorce court approves. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 133.115.

    If you need to make changes to your will, it's best to revoke it and make a new one. However, if you have only very simple changes to make, you could add an amendment to your existing will – this is called a codicil. In either case, you will need to finalize your changes with the same formalities you used to make your original will (see above).

    Can I Make a Digital or Electronic Will?

    Nevada is one of a handful of states that technically allows electronic wills (e-wills). The requirements for making a valid e-will in Nevada can be quite elaborate, and as a result, e-wills are still not commonplace. For more details on Nevada's specific approach to e-wills, see What Is an Electronic Will?

    Where Can I Find Nevada's Laws About Making Wills?

    You can find Nevada's laws about making wills here: Nevada Revised Statutes Title 12 Wills and Estates of Deceased Persons Chapter 133 - Wills.

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