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The Law Firm of Reed & Mansfield, Attorneys  Personal Injury & Property Damage, Las Vegas, NV


What is Probate?

Probate is the process of getting a court to say who owns a dead person's property. Probate is a public court proceeding that is often handled by a probate lawyer. Here in Las Vegas and all of Clark County (including Henderson and Boulder City and North Las Vegas and Mesquite) probate is handled by a specialized probate court that is actually a sub-division of Family Court which is a divison of the District Court. (In some other states the probate court may be called the Orphans' Court, or the Surrogate's Court or the Chancery Court.)

As a practical matter, property usually goes into probate only if there is a fight among the relatives or heirs or if the property has a title and the relatives or heirs need the Court to clean up the title. In many cases, after a person dies, there is no probate. This can happen for several reasons:

Many people plan in advance to avoid probate. A living trust avoids probate if all of the person's property is in the trust. Real estate held in joint tenancy and joint bank accounts go to the surviving party without probate. IRA accounts and life insurance policies usually name payable on death beneficiaries.

Property without a title doesn't need a court to transfer title. Property such as jewelry, furniture etc. is often distributed among family members without a court's involvement. However, as a matter of law, valuable property without a title which is not held in a trust should be distributed through the probate process and occasionally a probate case is filed just involving property without a title because of disputes among heir or questions about whether creditors have claims against the property.

Nevada and California have NOT passed in its entirety the Uniform Probate Code. Arizona has.


What Does a Will Do and What Happens if a Person Dies without a Will or a Trust?

A will is designed to tell a Probate Court how property should be divided upon death. If a person dies without a will, the person's property will be divided according to the Law of Intestate Succession. For example, if a single parent died leaving 3 adult children, each child would receive a 1/3 share if there were no will.

It is a common misconception that if you die without a will the State of Nevada gets your property. The State of Nevada only gets your property if you die without any next of kin coming forward. In that case your property escheats (goes) to the State. After than happens there is a six year deadline for next of kin to try and get the property back. See our section: Mom Dies, Nevada Inherits

In addition to letting you custom tailor the distribution of your assets, a will can perform these additional functions:

  • First, it can allow your executor to serve without the expense of posting a bond. But if you die without a will a relative can apply to be the administrator and the relative will not have to post a bond if the application states that all funds collected will be held by in the probate attorney's trust account. At Reed & Mansfield in a case like this we will set up a special sub-account of our trust account with its own account number for the estate.
  • Second, it can contain what is called a testamentary trust. For example, parents with young children can specify who would hold their money for their minor children if the parents die while the children are still minors. The parents could also specify at what age the children would get the money. Without such a "testatmentary trust" provision, the minor children would get all of their money at age 18.
  • Third, a will is an appropriate place for parents of minor children to express their desires as to who will raise the children if they die before the children become adults. The issue of who has control of minor children is always determined by the "best interests of the children," but a Court in trying to decide what is in the best interest of the children may be strongly influenced by what the now dead parents wrote in their will.

How Complicated is Probate and What Does It Cost?

It is our goal to be your high quality, low cost Las Vegas probate lawyers. The old model of probate billing is to charge by the hour. Most clients hate this because they can't know if the lawyer really spent the time billed, they don't know what it will cost in the end, and because it rewards inexperience and inefficiency by the attorney. On this page we list our flat fees. We believe you will find that these fees are not only affordable, but truly low cost in comparison with what other Las Vegas probate attorneys charge.

A Cautionary Note on Hourly Fees:

Law firms which charge an hourly fee to do probate typically have much of the work done by "paralegals" who are sometimes simply experienced secretaries. However, the Clark County Probate Court permits paralegals, if supervised by a lawyer, to charge at the lawyer's rate. Under an hourly rate fee agreement, you could be paying a non-lawyer $350 an hour to be copying and mailing out documents. Not all law firms that charge an hourly rate charge for paralegal time at the full attorney rate. However, if you are shopping fees for a probate and comparing our flat fees to an hourly rate, you should find out how the paralegal and secretarial work will be billed.

For more information about the potential issues with hourly fees, please visit: Are Hourly Probate Fees Crazy?

Warnings on Some Fee Practices:

Some probate lawyers charge the greater of their hourly fee calculation or the allowed statutory attorneys' fees. Many clients sign this awful (for them) agreement because they don't know better or because their eyes glaze over reading the ten page fee agreement and the attorney has a nice smile. Some probate lawyers give the client the choice in advance of an hourly rate or the allowed statutory attorneys' fees. And some lawyers, such as our law firm offer a discount fee as described below.

The Different Kinds of Probate Proceedings:

In Nevada there are 4 levels of probate complexity and expense:

Estates under $20,000 and No Real Estate or Contests:

The easiest probate proceeding is for estates for under $20,000 with no real estate and no competing claims. The person seeking to administer the will (or distribute the property if there is no will) files an affidavit. As of July 1, 2009, there is no filing fee in this case to file the affidavit in Clark County, Nevada. If there is a will the filing fee for the will is $18. Many people can handle this themselves. PLEASE DO NOT CALL US FOR FREE ADVICE ON HOW TO DO THIS YOURSELF.

Estates under $100,000:


The second easiest probate proceeding is for estates under $100,000 (technically not exceeding $100,000) using the "set aside without administration" procedure. This can include real estate.

Real estate is valued at its value minus any mortgage for the purpose of deciding which probate procedure can be used.

A petition is filed and a court date is set. Notice is given to next of kin and all creditors are paid. If all of the paperwork is correct and no one objects at the hearing, the judge signs an order at the hearing and proceeding is largely finished. Our fee to do this in Clark County which includes Las Vegas, if no one contests the proposed distribution, is $1,300 or $1,500 which includes all Nevada costs, except a real estate transfer tax, Nevada Real Estate Transfer Tax if it applies. The lower fee is for estates under $20,000 in value because there is no filing fee and the higher fee is for estates between $20,000 and $99,999.99 because of the filing fee of $286 plus a 3% surcharge. If there is more than one parcel of real estate there will be an additional fee of $100 per additional parcel of real estate. If there is more than one financial account there will be an additional fee of $100 per additional financial account. And if there is a will that names more than 3 people or entities as beneficiaries there will be an additional charge of $10 per person unless the client obtains from these additional people a re-assignment of their interest and waiver of notice which we will write up. Also, if real estate was jointly held by husband and wife and both have died and there is a need to file an affidavit of death of joint tenant, there will be an additional $100 charge to file each affidavit.

Our fee to do this in other counties is $1,500 for an estate under $100,000 using the set aside procedure. (All other counties we have done probates in charge a filing fee for most estates under $20,000.)

Note: Certain Additional Charges:

If, for example, Mom and Dad owned the property as joint tenants, and Dad died first and nothing was done to clean up title and then Mom dies, it will be necessary to file an Affidavit of Death of Joint Tenant to transfer Dad's half to Mom's estate and then to do the probate on Mom's estate. We charge $100 for each Affidavit of Death of Joint Tenant.

We also charge an extra $100 for each additional item of real estate in a Set-Aside Probate--the first item of real estate is included in the $1300 or $1500 fee.

If more than 3 people must be notified of the proceeding there is an additional $10 charge for each person beyond three who must be given notice. People who must be given notice include those people named as beneficiaries in the will if there is a will and all people who would inherit in the absence of a will even if there is a will.

Nevada law allows the probate court to defeat the claims of certain creditor or heirs in order to provide support for minor children or widows or widowers. For example, if a man died owing huge hospital and doctor bills, but had a small bank account in his name only, and left a wife, we would ask the court to allow the wife to have his bank account rather than the hospital and doctors, if the wife needed it for support.

Many of our filings in this category are for timeshares. Typically a person from out of state has a probate proceeding in his or her home state. But the person also bought a Nevada timeshare, say, Tahiti Village in Las Vegas. Because the timeshare is Nevada real estate, title must be transferred to the heir in a Nevada ancillary probate proceeding. If you can get good evidence that the timeshare is worth less than $20,000, we can usually avoid the $286 filing fee, in which case our fee will be $1300 everything included (except that most timeshare companies add their own fee of about $50-$399 to transfer title).

Our fees for these probates are very low cost and affordable; more typically others would charge $1,500 or more for legal fees alone, not including costs such as filing fee, copying, postage, etc. Our services are first rate and you will work directly with an attorney, not with office staff.

If there are no complications, this process can be completed about 3 weeks after we file the Petition and all necessary paperwork.

It often happens that a husband and wife own real estate as joint tenants. One of them dies and the other does nothing to clean up the title. Then the second dies and there has to be a probate to pass the property to the children or other heirs. In this case, it is necessary to file an affidavit of death of joint tenant in addition to the regular probate. If this has to be done we charge an extra $100 which includes the filing fee. You will have to supply both death certificates. For estates over $100,000, if we charge a flat fee, we don't charge extra in this case other than for the filing fee.

Please note: Real estate can be transferred to heirs using this process but not sold during the probate process using this procedure. See our web page, Sale of Real Estate. Sale of Real Estate Every time a probate is initiated in Nevada, notice has to be given to Nevada Medicaid. (Not to be confused with Medicare which is considered an "earned benefit" as opposed to Medicaid which is considered a form of welfare.) If Nevada Medicaid ever paid for any health care of the Decedent, no matter how long ago, it has a right to get paid back out of the estate. If paying this claim requires the sale of the real estate, then we cannot use this simple procedure to do the probate and will have to use the procedure described immediately below. On the other hand, if Dad dies owning a $90,000 Nevada condo and nothing else and there is a $5,000 Nevada Medicaid claim and no other claims, and the heirs can write a check to Nevada Medicaid for the $5,000, then we can use this simple procedure to get the condo to the heirs.

Note on Certain Estates Under $100,000 Involving Creditors' Claims:

Occasionally, even though an estate is worth less than $100,000 and would appear to qualify for the cheaper, quicker "Set Aside Without Administration" procedure, it makes sense to use the more time consuming and expensive "Summary Administration" procedure usually used for estates over $100,000 and not more than $200,000 and described below. The reason is that in the "Set-Aside Without Administration" procedure, the person acting like the executor by petitioning the court for a distribution has to state under penalty of perjury that all debts of the decedent have been paid or will be paid form the estate. If there are disputed creditors' claims, or if it is unknown whether there are creditor's claims, the Summary Administration procedure is used because that procedure has a mechanism for dealing with (and often easily defeating) unknown or disputed creditor's claims.

If you as the client and we as the lawyer decide this is the way to go, our fee (not including costs) will be $3,150. Costs will be about $400. If a creditor makes a claim and you as the client decide to deny the claim and the creditor files a lawsuit, that would involve an additional fee, but unless the creditor has a very substantial claim, it is very rare for a creditor to file a lawsuit when its claim is denied.)

Time Issue on Estates Under $100,000:

Because of the requirement that the Petitioner state under penalty of perjury that all debts of the estate have been paid when using the "Set Aside Without Administration" quick and cheap procedure, NRS 146.070(3) requires that such a Petition may not be filed until 30 days have passed since the death. Presumably, this gives some time for the Petitioner to learn of debts of the estate.

Calculation of Estate Value:

The Clark County Probate Court accepts evaluations of real estate for the purpose of determining the value of the estate, and therefore which probate proceeding is appropriate. It will not accept the Clark County Assessor's valuation. Many other Probate Courts in Nevada Counties accept their own County Assessor's valuation. is a "data-collecting" website. It feeds in to its proprietary analysis software sale prices of similar real estate with similar meaning easy data such as sales price and location and square footage, but not other data such as detailed analysis of the house's condition, views, landscaping, built-ins, etc. Everyone should understand that any given evaluation is only a quickie approximation and could be way off the actual value. Therefore, the court will also accept an appraisal from a licensed real estate appraiser, if it is submitted along with a copy of the appraiser's license. Notice we are talking about a licensed appraiser, not a licensed real estate agent. Such appraisals often cost about $500.

If says a house has a value of $150,000 and there is a $120,000 mortgage owing on the property, the value of the house is only $30,000. See, for example, N.R.S. 145.040, "If it is made to appear to the court that the gross value of the estate after deducting any encumbrances, does not exceed $200,000 the court may...enter an order for a summary administration of the estate." See also, N.R.S. 146.070(2) which says, "If...the gross value of the estate does not exceed $100,000, upon good cause shown, the court shall order that the estate not be administered upon, [but set aside]".

The value of a probate estate is NOT increased by assets that pass outside of probate. For example, if a person dies owning $1,000,000 of assets but $910,000 worth of these assets pass outside of probate (because they are in a trust, or in joint tenancy or payable on death) only $90,000 of the assets have to go through probate. In such a case the value of the estate is $90,000, NOT $1,000,000. (This applies to Nevada state probate proceedings; it does not apply to calculation of federal estate taxes.)

The value of the Nevada probate is only what is probated in Nevada. For example, if the Decedent was a Wisconsin resident and there was a $500,000 probate in Wisconsin, but the Decedent only owned a $90,000 condo in Nevada (note that real estate always has to be probated in the state in which it is located) the value of the Nevada probate is $90,000.

Once a Nevada probate is closed, if additional probatable assets are discovered there has to be a new probate and the value of the new probate is the value of what was probated before plus the value of the new assets that have to be probated. This is why we don't close a probate estate until we are sure we have all the assets.

Estates Between $100,000 and $200,000

This is intermediate in complexity as compared to the under $100,000 case and the over $200,000 case. If the case is uncontested and there are no unusual complications, our fee will be $3,150 for the first $100,000 of the estate and 2% of any amount over $100,000 without regard to debts of the estate except that the value of real estate is reduced by any mortgage. Costs are additional and will be $286 for filing. Expect $70 in publication costs. There will be additional E-Filing Fees of about $50, give or take, if the probate is in Clark County which includes the greater Las Vegas area. Our fees for these probates are quite low cost and our work is first rate. You will work directly with an attorney, not office staff.

MONEY SAVING TIP: Since we will do an uncontested probate for the statutory administrator's or executor's fee, our fee is calculated on the value of real estate minus the mortgage as provided by N.R.S. 150.020. But, if you sign an agreement with another probate firm to pay them the statutory attorney fee, the statutory attorney fee is calculated on the full value of the real estate, as provided by N.R.S. 150.060(4) and (6). For example, if the estate consists only of a house worth $300,000 with a $200,000 mortgage, a lawyer like us working for the statutory executor's or administrator's fee would charge $3,150 as a fee but the lawyer working for the statutory lawyer's fee would charge $9,000.

In this proceeding if the administrator is out of state there will have to be a Nevada co-administrator. If desired, one of our attorneys can serve as co-administrator without pay if the out of state administrator is willing to do the typical work of an administrator. See Executor Administrator. If there are no complications this process can be completed in as little as about three months after we file the Petition with all necessary paperwork. This probate requires a 60 day notice to known and unknown creditors. However, the facts of a specific estate, including sale of assets under the Court's supervision, could cause the process to take longer. When we say we offer "fast" probate we mean we are diligent in moving things along as fast as we can consistent with the legal requirements.

This procedure is called summary administration. Occasionally, we recommend using this procedure for estates under $100,000 if there is an issue of creditors whom the estate wants to try and cut out.

Please note: If real estate is to be sold during the probate process instead of transferred directly to heirs, we may or may not charge more. We will be happy to discuss this situation with you in a free consultation. Also, see our web page, Sale of Real Estate

Possible Money Saving Tip on any Financial Account:

As you can see from the previous sections it will cost about $2,200 more to probate an estate just over $100,000 than an estate just under $100,000 and take a few additional months to do so. Additionally, if we start the summary administration procedure and then it turns out that the estate is really worth less than $100,000, we still charge you the fee of $3,150 because the summary administration process is much more involved than the set aside without administration process.

Let's suppose we have a situation where Dad, a single man at the time of his death, dies and has 3 adult children. Further suppose his children, while going over his papers, see from recent statements that he died owning $150,000 worth of financial accounts. To keep our example simple, we will suppose there was nothing else in his estate. By looking at the statements the adult children can see that none of the accounts are joint accounts and none are held by a trust. But what the children can't see from looking at the statements is whether the accounts have a payable on death beneficiary. If one of the children calls up, say, Fidelity which has the accounts, Fidelty says, "Sorry, because of privacy concerns we can't talk to you. Once you can prove to us that you have been appointed executor or administrator we can give you the information." Let's further suppose that $100,000 of these accounts name the adult children as payable on death beneficiaries. But Fidelity won't tell them that.

In this case the adult children could call Fidelity before hiring a lawyer and ask for the claims procedure for payable on death beneficiaries. Then each adult child could send to Fidelity a certified copy of Dad's death certificate and completed paperwork to claim as a payable on death beneficiary on the chance they are a payable on death beneficiary. In this example, the adult children would collect the $100,000 payable on death and then hire me to do the cheaper, faster Set Aside Without Administration probate on the remaining $50,000 that Dad forgot to make payable on death to his children. Or, if everything was payable on death, they wouldn't even need to hire a lawyer.

This procedure is worthwhile if it means the difference between a Set Aside Without Administration versus a Summary Administration. However, if you know the estate is over $100,000 it makes sense to hire us in the first place. If we think at the outset that the estate is worth $300,000, but because some of the assets are payable on death the estate is worth only $100,000, our fee will be $3,150 based on the actual value, not the originally thought value.

Possible Money Saving Tip on Retirement Accounts:

Traditionally a retirement account lists a primary beneficiary and a secondary beneficiary. If the account holder dies the primary beneficiary gets the money upon proper application; if the primary beneficiary has predeceased the owner, the secondary beneficiary gets the money. But what if the owner never filled out the beneficiary form, or just filled out a primary beneficiary (such as spouse) but not secondary beneficiaries? The usual answer is that the account must be probated.

Importantly, some retirement plans specify that if the account owner dies without having named a beneficiary, then the money goes to the spouse, but if there was no spouse, or the spouse predeceased the owner, then the retirement money goes to the children in equal shares. If this is the case the retirement money does not have to go through the probate process and does not add to the value of the probate estate. A financial institution such as Fidelity may be willing to advise if a particular retirement account has this feature.

Another example is that Wells Fargo sets up its IRAs so that if there is no beneficiary named, an adult child or a spouse of the Decedent can get the IRA funds without probate. However, if the next of kin is neither an adult child or a spouse, and there is no beneficiary listed, then probate is required.

Possible Money Saving Tip on Community Property:

We discuss the distinction between community and separate property on this page of the website: Community/Separate Property Let's suppose Husband dies and the home that both the deceased husband and surviving lived in is titled only in the name of the husband. Let's suppose this home is owned free and clear and is worth $190,000 and that is the only asset of the probate estate as all other assets were jointly owned. Is this a $190,000 probate requiring Summary Administration, or can it be done as a $95,000 Set Aside Without Administration? If the wife can claim that the marital home was really community property then this is a $95,000 Set Aside Without Administration. In addition to the cost savings of doing the Set Aside instead of Summary Administration there are two other potentially favorable aspects to the wife of this being characterized as Community Property. Under N.R.S. 146.070 non-secured creditors are cut off if the estate has a value of not more than $100,000 and the heirs are either a surviving spouse and/or minor children and if the estate is not worth more than $100,000, the spouse and/or minor children defeat all other inheritors.

Estates Over $200,000:

This is a fairly complex procedure with a number of expenses in addition to the $539 (Clark County) filing fee. Expect $140 in publication fees giving notice to potential creditors and other claimants. There will be additional E-Filing Fees of about $35, give or take, if the probate is in Clark County which includes the greater Las Vegas area.

Most attorneys charge by the hour for an estate in this category. We realize that the idea of hourly billing is scary to most people who worry that that hourly billing encourages slow work. We will be happy to discuss a flat rate for this category of probate.

To give you a flat rate we would have to discuss with you all of the estate assets, the heirs, the creditors, etc. Our flat rate would be good assuming that there were no will contests or contests with creditors etc. Our flat rate is $3,150 for the first $100,000 of the estate and 2% of the estate over that, without regard to debts of the estate except that the value of real estate is reduced by any mortgage. This rate is less than the statutory attorneys' fee set forth in N.R.S. 150.060(4) and can be dramatically less because under N.R.S. 150.060(6) the statutory attorneys' fee is based on the full value real estate even if there is a big mortgage.

For example, assume the estate consists only of a $400,000 house with a $300,000 mortgage. The statutory administrator's or executor's fee is $3,150 based on $100,000. The statutory attorney's fee is $11,000 based on $400,000. Again, we believe based on the foregoing we can truthfully claim we are affordable, discount, low-cost, high quality probate attorneys.

In the cases of estates worth well over a million dollars and with no mortgaged real estate, the statutory attorney's fee can sometimes be less than the statutory administrator's or executor's fee; if that is the case we will do the uncontested probate for the lesser of the statutory administrator's or executor's fee or 20% off the statutory attorney's fee.

If there are no complications, this process could be completed in about 4 or 5 months after we file the initial petition with all necessary paperwork. This process involves a 90 day notice to known and unknown creditors. However, specific facts, such as sale of assets under the Court's supervision, could cause the process to take longer. When we say we offer "fast" probate we mean we are diligent in moving things along as fast as we can consistent with the legal requirements.

This procedure is called general administration.

Because of the expense of probate we recommend the use of a trust rather than a will for estate planning. Notably, we currently offer a trust package for only $675, please call the number below for details if you are interested.

Please note: If real estate is to be sold during the probate process instead of transferred directly to heirs, we may or may not charge more. We will be happy to discuss this situation with you in a free consultation. Also, see our web page, Sale of Real Estate

Special Administration

Occasionally, but not often, a probate is begun as a Special Administration. See. Special Administration

Ancillary Probate

Real estate must always be probated in the state it is located in. Suppose a person in Las Vegas dies owning property Nevada, California and Hawaii. The main probate would be in Nevada. Ancillary probate proceedings would have to be done in California and Hawaii to probate the property in those states. See Ancillary Probate. Most of our Ancillary Probates are timeshare probates; for a list of documents we need to do an Ancillary Probate, please see Timeshare Probate.

This is another reason for a trust. In the example above a trust would save the expense of three probates.

Do You Need an Attorney for Probate?

It is your constitutional right to represent yourself in almost all court proceedings. However, probate courts require that a number of documents be filed and written up in very specific ways. There are also specific procedures such as giving notice to creditors. The proceedings are complicated in a way that is designed to provide as much protection as possible to creditors and also to heirs in cases in which the administrator or executor handling the estate may be in conflict with and hostile to some of the heirs.

An experienced probate lawyer understands all of this. Most probates are "friendly" in that the executor or administrator gets along just fine with the other heirs. However, the probate procedure is a "one procedure fits all" approach that seeks to offer protection to both creditors and heirs by making sure that the probate is done in a certain way. Even many attorneys find these probate procedures difficult. This is why most lawyers don't do probates, and this is why most people either begin or end up hiring a lawyer for their Nevada probate.

How Can We Know the Value of the Estate?

The value of an estate in probate is the value of the property that the Court is supposed to transfer to the heirs. Real estate in a different state does not count. Payable on death bank accounts or real estate held in joint tenancy (as long as the other tenant is still alive) does not count. Life insurance proceeds do not count.

If you want to know what Clark County (the county Las Vegas is in) thinks real estate is worth go to the Clark County Assessor's website: However, the Clark County Probate Court does not currently accept these values. It will accept estimates, or an appraisal based on comparable sales.

If requested, we can provide a comparable sales analysis from a licensed realtor. With the current turmoil in the real estate market, honest estimates of a property's value can vary widely. Sometimes a Las Vegas resident will have real estate in neighboring Nye County whose town of Pahrump is a long commute from Las Vegas. The website of the Nye County Recorder's office is: If real estate has a mortgage, the mortgage balance owed is subtracted from the gross value of the real estate. Back real estate taxes owed, back HOA fees owed, and other liens against the real estate are also subtracted.

How to Avoid Probate

Probate can be avoided with proper planning before death. We strongly advise most people to have a trust written and to put their property in a trust. See our website section on trusts, found in the menu bar on the left. There are three basic reasons to avoid probate by putting property in a trust:

First, if there is any substantial property involved, it is a heck of a lot cheaper to have property pass through a trust than through probate. Our firm will do most trusts as part of package that includes a pour-over will and a healthcare power of attorney for only $675, which is even cheaper than what he have heard some paralegals will charge for similar documents. Our probate rates are discussed above. If a person dies with their property in a trust, most times the successor trustee can handle the distribution of property without an attorney. Few people can do probate without an lawyer.

Second, depending on the amount of property involved, probate can take months, even if all of the next of kin/beneficiaries agree on everything.

Third, probate is a public record. If you are leaving your daughter $350,000 do you want a public record of that?

Money Saving Tip: Many attorneys, including ourselves, write wills for $100, which is poor pay considering the time involved and overhead expenses or running a law office. This "loss leader" is done in the expectation that a certain number of these wills will come back to us for probate. Of course, we feel ethically bound to point out to potential clients that a trust or other arrangement to avoid probate will benefit their heirs. Typically, two classes of will clients say they don't want to pay the extra cost of a trust and deal with some of the extra complications of a trust. The first group really have hardly any assets so the trust doesn't seem to make economic sense. The second group are people without any real close relatives who will their property to several different beneficiaries and take the position that as the beneficiaries are already getting a windfall, it's not their job to go to extra effort to avoid probate costs. Since we do a trust package for $675 we urge clients with any significant assets to avoid to plan probate.


Although three members of this firm are licensed in California as well as Nevada, we currently restrict our trust practice to Nevada residents. However, we can refer you to a high quality, low cost California trust attorney if you like.


Contested Probates or Will Contests and Contingency Fees:

The Probate Court allows attorneys to take will contests or probate contests on a contingency fee. But most lawyers refuse to do so. We will consider doing a will contest or probate contest on a contingency fee (meaning we don't get paid unless you collect from the estate) but we are very selective in potentially taking probate and will contests on a contingency fee.

Variation in Probate from One Nevada County to Another Nevada County:

All Nevada judges who handle probate matters read the same Nevada statutes, the same Nevada Supreme Court decision, and when relevant, the same federal law. All the major aspects of probate procedure are set out by state statute.

The differences from county to county within Nevada are that filing fees for the different probate procedures vary from county to county, the cost of publication in a local paper varies from county to county, and there may be minor variations in procedure from one court to another. Additionally, some counties require an additional form to be filed explaining why a social security number is included in the filing. This usually comes up when a death certificate is filed as the death certificate includes the decedent's social security number.

All the lawyers in our firm have been treated with respect and courtesy by the judges and court personnel of all the Nevada counties we have filed probate cases in.

Variation in Probate from State to State:

Probate procedure varies greatly from one state to another. Substantive probate law is largely uniform among the different United States and Territories, but some differences in substantive law do exist among different states.

Federal Probate Jurisdiction:

Federal diversity jurisdiction (no conflicting parties from the same state, amount in controversy over $75,000) is available for contested probate matters. It is rare for probate cases to be filed in federal court, but it can be done in diversity cases. However, if a probate case is filed in state court, suit on a creditor's claim in federal court will likely be ineffective. Bergerson v. Loeb, 100 Nev. 54, 657 P.2d 397 (1984).

If the Defendant in a Personal Injury Case Dies:

Suppose John Doe causes an automobile accident resulting in injury or death and has auto liability insurance but dies before the claim is resolved. N.R.S. 140.040(3)(b), as explained in Jacobson v. Estate of Clayton, 119 P.3d 132 (2005), allows a special administrator, such as the Public Administrator, to be appointed to serve as the nominal defendant under the insurance policy if the estate had no other assets other than the liability policy.