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

Low Fees for Uncontested Nevada Probates

NOTE: In Washoe County (which includes Reno) our discounted fees have drawn some scrutiny from the Probate Commissioner. We will discuss Washoe County probate fees on a case by case basis.

NOTE: In Nye County we either have to drive to Pahrump or Tonopah for a court hearing or appear by Court Call which costs $95. Accordingly, our Set-Aside fee for Nye County is $2000 instead of $1900. For bigger probate cases in Nye County we will discuss how to handle this fee.

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

Estates under $25,000 (or under $100,000 if the only claimant is a spouse) and No Real Estate or Contests:

The easiest probate proceeding is for estates for under $25,000 (or under $100,000 if the only claimant is a spouse) 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. 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. The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, 702-386-1070 can help you with an estate in this category if you meet their financial guidelines and the probate is in Clark County, home of Las Vegas. You can find an up to date "Affidavit of Entitlement" form on the Washoe County Court's website. 

Estates under $100,000 and Estates under $25,000 that hold Real Estate or a Timeshare

MONEY SAVING TIP: OUR FEES ARE BASED ON GROSS VALUE OF REAL ESTATE MINUS MORTGAGE OWED. MOST OF OUR COMPETITORS BASE FEES ON GROSS VALUE OF REAL ESTATE, WITH NOTHING TAKEN OFF FOR MORTGAGE.

THE FEES QUOTED HERE ARE FEES FOR UNCONTESTED PROBATES
AND PROBATES IN WHICH WE ARE NOT SEEKING TO DEFEAT
CREDITORS' CLAIMS. IF THE PROBATE IS CONTESTED OR IF
YOU WANT TO DEFEAT CREDITORS' CLAIMS SUCH AS MONEY DUE ON
MORTGAGES, ETC., CALL TO DISCUSS THE DETAILS AND THEN
WE CAN GIVE YOU A PRICE AFTER LEARNING THE DETAILS
THESE RATES ARE ALSO LIMITED TO CLIENTS SEEKING US THROUGH
THIS WEBSITE OR FROM A REFERRAL FROM A PREVIOUS CLIENT

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 if no one contests the proposed distribution, is $1,900 which includes all Nevada costs, except a real estate transfer tax,if it applies. 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.

Why do we insist on this fee to be paid 100% in advance, when we only ask for a smaller cost retainer on bigger probates? For the Set Aside Without Administration, we file a Petition and hopefully about 3 weeks later we get a court order transferring all of the property. If the order involves the transfer of real estate, we record the order and give the recorded order to our client; if the transfer involves financial accounts, we get certified copies of the order and give them to our client. This completes our work. For the $1900 fee which is very low, we do not want the accounting bother of not being able to close our file until we get the rest of our fee. If the client wants the fee and costs to come out of a financial account being collected, we will consider doing the extra work of providing that the court order place the financial account in our trust account and then we will disburse the funds but we will charge an extra $200 for doing this.

Money Saving Tip: Occasionally a husband dies with a house, possibly the marital home, titled only in the husband's name. Now a probate will be necessary to transfer title to the surviving wife (and possibly children). Nevada is a community property state and we may be able to argue that the house is community property in which case even though the house is only in the husband's name the wife already owns half and therefore we reduce the value of the probate estate which saves money.

For probates involving more than $100,000 or for probates of any value involving the longer process of Summary or General Administration we are happy to accept a small cost retainer, or even waive that if it is a problem and get paid when the estate closes.

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 $1900 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.

In the vast majority of set aside probates, no publication is required. The only reason a publication would be required in a probate set aside would be if a person dies without a will and all of the people who inherit in the absence of a will can not be located (so that they can be given notice of the proceeding by regular mail) or if the person dies with a will but one or more will beneficiary cannot be located so as to be given notice by regular mail. In these case, we will expect our client to pay in addition to the flat fee the cost of publication. In Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, and Boulder City, publication costs only $70. In just about every other Nevada county it costs substantially more, for example, about $350 in Washoe County, where Reno is located. 

Nevada law allows the probate court to defeat the claims of most unsecured creditors 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. In our experience Nevada courts automatically prefer the surviving spouse or minor children over creditors if the estate is worth not more than $100,000, even without showing that the surviving spouse or the minor children need the money. (But, ironically, if the estate is worth $100,001 or more, then the preference for the surviving spouse or minor children disappears.)

Many of our filings in this category are for timeshares. 

Our fees for these probates are very low cost and affordable; more typically others would charge $1,800 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. This 3 week estimate applies to Clark County, home of Las Vegas. Other Nevada counties can be slower, especially Washoe County in which Reno is located.

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:

In order to file a Set Aside Petition the Petitioner must state under penalty of perjury that all known debts of the estate have been paid. Let's say we do this. What problems could arise with Creditors' claims?

First, DCM, a corporation that collects credit card debt is now looking at all Clark County probate filings to see if their clients have any claims against the dead person. In January of 2017 for the first time DCM jumped in before the Set Aside Hearing to file a Creditor's Claim. In this case my client had not known about the credit card claim but the Court refused to set aide the estate until the Creditor's Claim was resolved.

Second, suppose in this case DCM had not been to speedy and the estate had been set aside to my client before DCM asserted its claim. Under a 2011 Nevada law, people who "get" money when a person dies (whether they get it thru probate, or because they are a payable on death beneficiary, or because they are on a joint account with the person who died) are liable to creditors of the estate up to the amount that they received from the dead person. Therefore, 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 $300,000 and described below. The reason is that in the Summary Administration procedure, a notice to (unknown) creditors is published in a newspaper and any creditor unknown to the person claiming under the estate has a 60 day deadline to file a Creditor's Claim and if they don't the statute of limitation runs against them. (The person claiming under the estate has a duty to mail a Notice to Creditors to known creditors. Again, then the known creditor has 60 days to file a Creditor's Claim. Some Creditors, especially if the claim is small, don't bother.)

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.)

Sometimes Surviving Spouses or Minor Children Can Avoid Creditors' Claims in Estates Under $100,000:

Under NRS 146 if the Estate is not over $100,000 it should be set aside without payment of creditors' claims if this is necessary to provide support for a surviving spouse or minor children. In fact, this preference is pretty automatic except for one wrinkle. Often the surviving spouse or minor children receive money from the dead person (Decedent) outside of probate. For example, the surviving spouse owns a joint account with the Decedent or hold title to property in joint tenancy with the Decedent or is a beneficiary of a life insurance policy on the Decedent's life. These are called "non-probate transfers." If the Court is being asked to cut off creditors in an estate not over $100,000 so the surviving spouse or minor children can be supported, the Court will demand to know how much the surviving spouse or minor children are receiving from non-probate transfers from the Decedent. If there are non-probate transfers to the surviving spouse or minor children, then the court will consider the needs of the surviving spouse or minor children and then decide whether the creditors' claims can be cut out. Of course, if the creditor has a lien or mortgage on estate assets, nothing in NRS 146 cuts our such "secured" interests of the creditors. 

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 Zillow.com 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.

Zillow.com 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 Zillow.com evaluation is only a quickie approximation and could be way off the actual value. 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 Zillow.com 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, 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.

The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, 702-386-1070 can help you with an estate in this category if you meet their financial guidelines and the probate is in Clark County, home of Las Vegas.

Can You Get Letters Testamentary in a Set Aside Proceeding?

Many times financial institutions tell heirs that in order to get their father' or mother's money they will need certified copies of Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration. However, in a Set-Aside procedure, no such Letters are issued. To prevent problems in this situation, we always draft the Order we get from the Court to state that the estate qualified for Nevada's Set-Aside procedure and as a result no Letters Testamentary or Letter of Administration have been or will be issued. The financial institutions then have their legal counsel look at the Order and their counsel tells them no Letters Testamentary or Letter of Administration are required.

Estates Between $100,000 and $300,000

This is intermediate in complexity as compared to the under $100,000 case and the over $300,000 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. (If the estate is worth less than $100,000 but we decide to do Summary Administration then the fee will be $3,150) Costs are additional and will be $296 for filing in Clark County. Expect $70 in publication costs in Clark County, more in other counties. There will be additional E-Filing Fees of about $20, give or take, if the probate is in Clark County which includes the greater Las Vegas area Other court and government fees include $18 to file a will, and about $36 for two filings concerning each item of real estate. 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, we can find a local person to be the Nevada resident Co-Administrator if the out of state administrator is willing to do the typical work of an Administrator. We would typically expect you to pay such person $500 for estates under $200,000 and $1,000 for estates over that amount.  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 Real Estate:

Nevada has a Transfer on Death Deed provided for under N.R.S. 111.665 et. seq. It occasionally happens that we are able to tell heirs that they don't need to do a probate because Mom recorded a transfer on death deed to her children before dying so that now all the children have to do to claim her house is to file an Affidavit of Death (or pay us to do that.). To find out if someone who died owning real estate in Clark County filed a Transfer on Death Deed, you will have to check the Clark County Recorder's Website. The Clark County Assessor's website does not have this information. The best way to check on the Recorder's website is to use the Assessor's Parcel Number (which you can get off the Assessor's website starting with a name or address). The Recorder's website may show a Transfer on Death Deed as "Transfer on Death Deed" or as "Deed."

Possible Money Saving Tip on any Financial Account:

As you can see from the previous sections it will cost about $1,800 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. However, in this example, if we initiated the filing assuming the estate was worth $300,000 the filing fee would be about $250 higher and there would be one extra publication fee.

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 who predeceased the owner) 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.

Possible Additional Charge: In the typical summary administration case, assets are collected and when all the assets are collected and liability is determined, then we petition the Court for a Final Distribution. It occasionally happens that through no one's fault it takes a really long time to do everything necessary to close the estate. In such a case, we petition the Court for a Partial Distribution of assets, and then go back in the end and Petition for a Final Distribution. We reserve the right to charge $1,000 for each Partial Distribution. We will typically not charge this fee if the total probate fee is $5,000 or larger.

Estates Over $300,000:

NOTE: In the fall of 2015, Nevada Law changed to requiring General Administration for estates over $200,000 to only requiring it for estate over $300,000. 

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 $299,000 mortgage. The statutory administrator's or executor's fee is $3,170 based on $101,000, which would be the fee we would charge you. 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 $775, 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