Nevada offers some probate shortcuts for "small estates." These procedures make it easier for survivors to transfer property left by a person who has died. You may be able to transfer a large amount of property using simplified probate procedures or without any probate court proceedings at all -- by using an affidavit. And that saves time, money, and hassle.
Here are the ways you can skip or speed up probate. (If the affidavit procedure is used, there's no need to use the simplified probate procedure.)
Nevada has a procedure that allows inheritors to skip probate altogether when the value of all the assets left behind is less than a certain amount. All an inheritor has to do is wait 40 days, then prepare a short document, stating that he or she is entitled to a certain asset. This document, signed under oath, is called an affidavit. When the person or institution holding the property -- for example, a bank where the deceased person had an account -- gets the affidavit and a copy of the death certificate, it releases the asset.
The out-of-court affidavit procedure is available if there is no Nevada real estate and the gross value of property in Nevada doesn't exceed $100,000 for a surviving spouse or $25,000 for any other person making a claim. Motor vehicles registered to the deceased person don't count when calculating the value of the estate. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 146.080.
Nevada has a simplified probate process for small estates. To use it, an executor files a written request with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court may authorize the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.
You can use the simplified small estate process in Nevada if:
1. The gross value of the estate doesn't exceed $300,000, if court approves. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 145.020 and following.
2. If the value of the estate is $100,000 or less, the court must set it aside for the spouse or minor children without payment to creditors unless doing so would cause an obvious unjustice. If the spouse or minor children inherit assets outside of probate, the court can consider their needs and set aside some of the estate for creditors, but must leave at least $100,000 for the family members. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 146.070.
For help determining if an estate qualifies for one of these probate shortcuts, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo), or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).