Making a Will in Nevada

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

What Can I Do With 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 Die Without 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 do-it-yourself will software or online will programs. However, you may want to consult a lawyer in some situations. For example, if you think that your will might be contested or if you want to disinherit your spouse, you should talk with an attorney. Nolo's will-making products tell you when it's wise to seek a lawyer's advice.

What Are the Requirements for Signing a Will in Nevada?

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.

Nevada also recognizes electronic wills. These are electronic records that list the date of your will and contain at least one of these:

  • your electronic signature with a handwritten signature that you uploaded digitally or an authentication characteristic (like a fingerprint, retinal scan, voice recognition, video recording, or some other unique characteristic to prove it was you)
  • an electronic signature and seal of an electronic notary public, or
  • the electronic signatures of two or more witnesses that were added in front of you after you electronically signed your will. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 133.085.

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'll need to go to a notary if you want to do that. A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.

To make your will self-proving, you and your witnesses will go to the notary and sign an affidavit that states who you are and that each of you knew you were signing the will.

To make your electronic will self-proving, you attach the affidavits described above to the electronic will. The electronic notary can complete the notarization process by using audio and video communication and doesn't have to be physically located where you and your witnesses are. The will must state who should maintain the electronic record of the will and this person must have custody of this will at all times before offering it to the probate court. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 133.086 and 133.087.

Should I Use My Will to 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 will software and online will 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).

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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