Clark County Probate Procedure

Where Is the Probate Court?

Presently, the Probate Commissioner who is the "judge" on all probate cases initially and on those that remain uncontested has his office (chambers) on the 10th floor of the Phoenix Building, 330 S. Third St., Las Vegas, NV 89101. However, Probate Court hearings are held at the Regional Justice Center, 200 Lewis Ave. in downtown Las Vegas. (The Regional Justice Center is also on S. Third Street, directly South of the Phoenix Building but uses a Lewis Street address. Order for the Probate Commissioner to sign should be dropped off on the 10th floor of the Phoenix Building, 330 S. Third St. Signed orders can be picked up there, in attorney folders in the Regional Justice Center, or in the probate court room depending on circumstances.

How Does A Probate Case Get Started?

When a person dies there is no automatic probate. A probate case can only get started if some person files a petition to start a probate. Many people with plenty of assets arrange their affairs so that when they die there will be nothing to probate because everything is in a trust, has payable on death beneficiaries. Usually, if someone does file a probate, it is a party hoping to be awarded property by the Probate Court. The exception happens a person dies in a way that alerts the Clark County Public Administrator. Possibly, a person dies in an apartment and no family member shows up so the County Coroner arrives to take away the body and alerts the Public Administrator who tries to find family member but may eventually open up a probate if family members can't be found and if the Public Administrator is aware that there is some valuable property.

When, If Ever, Do Wills Get Filed?

Wills can't be filed until the writer of the Will--the Testator--is dead. Then, by law, a person having custody of an original Will should file it within 30 days of death. But, often this doesn't happen. See Filing A Will.

General Process

Generally all documents must be filed electronically. Lawyers almost always file online from their offices. However, it is possible to take a number and wait to use a scanner in the courthouse to file. There are two common exceptions to the rule that probate papers are filed online. The first is that if there is an original will, the original will must be filed by presenting the original will to the court clerk. When this is done one should bring a copy so that the court clerk will put her file stamp on the will copy. A file-stamped copy of the will is required to be attached to the probate petition. (If one forgets to bring a copy of the will when it is filed, one has to go back to court to request a file-stamped copy.) The second common exception to online filing is that Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary must be taken to the courthouse to be issued. Original wills need to be at 601 N. Pecos, Las Vegas. Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration are issued only at 601 N. Pecos, Las Vegas.

Typically, when a the initial petition in a probate case is e-filed, it takes anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of days for the Court to "accept" the petition and assign a case number. The initial acceptance is based on superficial things like the petition is signed and scanned right side up instead of upside down. Once the case number is assigned, the lawyer files a Notice of Hearing on the Petition. All of the common probate hearings are held on Friday mornings at 9:30 a.m. Typically 100 or more petitions are set for each Friday morning hearing.

Beginning the Monday morning before the Friday Hearing, the Judge (technically the Probate Commissioner) and his judicial assistants review all of the Petitions. The Petitions are put into two categories: Those for which no one has filed an opposition and those in which someone has filed an Opposition. If an Opposition has been filed, the Judge will read the Petition and Opposition and prepare for an oral argument at the Friday Hearing.

If no opposition has been filed, the Judge and staff will review to see that the Petition meets all legal requirements. Typically, if something is missing, a judicial clerk will e-mail the attorney on the Monday or Tuesday before the hearing and allow the attorney an opportunity to supply whatever is missing by Thursday, noon, before the hearing.

Beginning the Monday before the Friday hearing, one can Google, "Approved Probate List, Clark County, Nevada," or something similar and see the Friday calendar. On the left will be the case name. On the right will be either the word, "ok," or some other comment.

The word "ok" means that if no one shows up at the Friday hearing to file an objection, a pre-signed Order approving the Petition will be given out at the Friday hearing. There may be a comment such as "needs proof of ____" which means the Petition will be okay if that missing item is supplied and if no one objects at the Friday Hearing.

Typically there will be 100 or so uncontested Petitions followed by the word "ok" by the time the Friday hearing rolls around. At the Friday hearing the Judge will announce that he will read the Approved List and if anyone has an objection, they should stand when the case name is read and say, "Objection." On many Fridays, no one objects to any of the cases. If a person does object, the Judge tells the Bailiff to pull the pre-signed Order aside. He then tells the person objecting to take a seat and that the matter will be heard with all the other contested matters.

Objections are rare. Once the judge has read all of the cases on the Approved List, the judge tells the attorneys that they can pick up any unobjected to Orders. The attorneys then either take the order downstairs for filing and to get a certified copy or they take the Order back to their office and file the Orders from their office.

Clients often ask me if they should attend the hearing. If there is no reason to expect a contest the answer is that there is no need to attend. If there is a surprise objection, the Judge will accept a request to
delay the hearing until all parties can be present and until the parties can submit their arguments on papers.

Probate Matters Without A Court Hearing

Some probate matters are handled without a court hearing. For example, if a person dies and no will is found but there is evidence of a safe deposit box, for example a safe deposit box key was found in the decedent's (dead person's) desk, or a bill for safe deposit was found in the decedent's papers, any interested in party can file what is called an ex parte Petition to see if there is a will in that box. See Safe Deposit Boxes

Ex parte Petitions

Another example would be if the legal description of real estate in a Probate Court Order contained a mistake, an ex parte Petition would be filed to get an Amended Order with the correct legal description. (Ex Parte means one party can ask the court to do something without giving notice to other parties or interested people.)

Ex parte Petitions are simply delivered to the Court with a proposed Order. The Clark County Probate Court keeps a list of all submitted ex parte matters and their disposition, especially if the proposed Order is ready to be picked up from the Courthouse. To see the list Google, "The District Court Probate Pick-up List, Clark County, Nevada."

Timeframes in Clark County

In the last several years the probate court has become increasingly back-logged with it now (December of 2023) taking 3-4 months to get an uncontested probate hearing. 

Unfortunately, the Court lacks sufficient staffing to promptly resolve many contested probate matters. It is not uncommon for contested probate matters to take years to resolve. This is partly due to lack of judicial resources and party due to the fact that contested probate matters can be appealed from the probate commissioner to a district court judge. The Court is working to try and speed up the handling of contested probate cases.