What Happens If You Die Without a Will in Nevada?


It can be difficult to think about what happens when you die. For many of us, it is easier to focus on being present in the here and now instead of thinking about what happens in a world we no longer inhabit. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

However, thinking about what happens to your money and property after you are gone is essential to end-of-life planning. No matter your age or where you are in life, now is the best time to start your end-of-life planning journey. 

To start, you must decide if you need a will. A will is a legal document that lays out what you want to happen to your assets when you die. If you do not have a will, the intestacy laws of the state where you live will decide what to do with your assets for you. Every state has its own intestacy laws. 

Nevada's Intestacy Laws Explained

If you die without a will in Nevada, Nevada's intestacy laws will determine what happens to your property. A lot depends on how much property you own, the type of property it is, and whether you have a surviving spouse and/or children. 

» MORE: Save thousands on funeral costs by knowing your options – schedule a free consultation today.

How Does Probate Work in Nevada If There Is No Will?

In Nevada, probate is the judicial process of settling a deceased person's estate if they died with a will. If a person dies without a will, "a similar process known as 'administration' is used to settle the deceased's affairs." Nevada has different processes depending on the size of the estate.

Keep in mind that not all property goes through administration. For example, property that automatically passes upon death does not go through administration; this includes insurance policies, retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, and property held in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship.

To initiate administration proceedings, a qualified person must file a petition with the court in the county where the deceased resided. A person can be an administrator if they are more than 18 years old, not a convicted felon, and a Nevada resident.

If you're not a Nevada resident, you're not necessarily out of the running to be the administrator, but you must associate with someone who is a Nevada resident. When you associate with a Nevada resident, you and the Nevada resident work together as co-administrators of the estate. This means that you cooperate to fulfill your obligations as administrators.

In Nevada, the court will prioritize those most closely related to the defendant to be appointed administrator, beginning with the deceased's surviving spouse, then their children, a parent, and so on. 

An administrator has a lot of responsibilities, including gathering assets, paying creditors, and complying with the administration procedures. The administrator does not have to work alone; they may employ other professionals such as attorneys and/or accountants to help settle the estate. If you are an administrator of a loved one's estate, you may want to consult with an experienced probate attorney who can assist you with the administration process. 

Not all estates will need to go through the administration process. Depending on the value of the person's assets and whether or not they owned any real estate, you may be able to go through a simplified process. In some instances, you may even be able to distribute the estate property without administration.

Even if the estate is small, you will still need to file paperwork in the county court where the deceased resided. You should consult a probate attorney if you have questions about the paperwork. 

Who Typically Inherits Assets in Nevada If There Isn't a Will?

In Nevada, if the deceased doesn't leave a will, what happens next depends on whether they leave a surviving spouse and/or children and the type of property left behind.

Community property

In Nevada, a deceased's separate property is treated differently than the deceased's community property. Community property is a type of property that the couple acquired during the marriage. Separate property is defined below.

A surviving spouse retains their one-half interest in the community property when a spouse dies.  If there is no will, the surviving spouse also receives the other half of the community property.

Separate property

Separate property is generally property that the deceased acquired before marriage. It can also include gifts and inheritances received during the marriage. 

Determining who will inherit the separate property depends on who survives the deceased. Generally, a surviving spouse and any surviving children, grandchildren, or other lineal descendants can inherit if there is no will. How much they inherit will depend on the number of children.

For example, if a spouse and one child survive the deceased, the property is split equally between the surviving spouse and the child. If the child is deceased, their "issue" are entitled to their portion of the estate. The word "issue" can include the child's children, grandchildren, and other lineal descendants. 

In Nevada, other family members may also be entitled to inherit, including surviving parents and/or surviving siblings. 

Familial relationships can be complex. If you have questions about who is in line to inherit your property if you don't leave a will, you should consult an estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney can answer your questions and give you legal advice. They may also be able to help you with your estate planning so that you can decide who inherits your property. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Dying Without a Will in Nevada

Dying without a will can impact your loved ones, including your parents, children, and surviving spouse. Below we will answer frequently asked questions about dying without a will in Nevada.

What happens when your parent dies without a will?

It is never easy to think about the loss of a parent. In many instances, adult children are the ones who must handle estate matters after a parent's death, which can be difficult when combined with the emotional toll of grieving. 

As discussed above, what happens after someone dies without a will depends on many factors, including the size of the estate and whether the deceased had a surviving spouse and/or children. 

If your parent dies, you may petition the court to be an administrator of your parent's estate. You would have priority over everyone except for your parent's surviving spouse. 

If you are your parent's only child, you may share their estate with their surviving spouse. If you have siblings, your parent's surviving spouse gets one-third of the estate, and you share the rest equally with your siblings. 

What are a surviving spouse's rights if there's no will?

Losing a spouse can be a harrowing experience. In Nevada, the term "spouse" includes a domestic partner. As discussed above, a surviving spouse has rights to all community property. Additionally, a surviving spouse is first on the list to be the administrator of their spouse's estate. 

Losing a spouse can be even more challenging if the spouse leaves behind underage children. In Nevada, the surviving spouse and/or underage children are entitled to support even if there is no will. Specifically, the law says they are entitled to "remain in possession of the homestead and of all the wearing apparel and provisions in the possession of the family, and all the household furniture, and are also entitled to a reasonable provision for their support, to be allowed by the court."

A surviving spouse has additional rights if the value of the deceased's estate is worth less than $100,000. If so, "the estate may be set aside without administration by order of the court." Additionally if the deceased leaves behind a spouse "or one or more minor children, the court must set aside the estate for the benefit of the surviving spouse or the minor child or minor children of the decedent, subject to any reduction made pursuant to subsection 4 or 5.

The court may allocate the entire estate to the surviving spouse, the entire amount to the minor child or minor children, or may divide the estate among the surviving spouse and minor child or minor children." Subsections 4 and 5 provide exceptions to pay creditors to prevent injustice.

Consult with a probate attorney if you are concerned about your rights after losing a spouse. A probate attorney can answer your questions and help you protect your rights. 

If you are concerned about protecting your spouse and/or children after your death, it may be time to start your end-of-life planning. You can use the Cake planning platform to help you with this process. 

Are there any probate exemptions if you die without a will in Nevada?

As discussed above, when the estate is worth less than $100,000, the surviving spouse and/or minor children are entitled to support from the estate. This includes the homestead as well as clothing and household furniture. 

» MORE: Need help paying for a funeral? Let Cake help with a free consultation.

How long does probate take when there is no will?

In Nevada, if a person dies without a will, the process for settling their estate is called "administration," not probate. These processes are very similar.

In general, administration will take at least four months. This duration "allows for publication of creditor notices and gives creditors time to file claims." 

However, the duration depends on many factors, such as the complexity of the estate.

The process may also take longer if there are challenges to the estate or if the administrator has difficulty handling the estate. In some instances, gathering information about the estate and disposing of property may take a while. 

If you have questions about the administration process, contact a probate attorney licensed in Nevada. The probate attorney can answer your questions and help you navigate administration.

Who is considered next of kin in Nevada?

The phrase "next of kin" can have different legal meanings. It is commonly understood to refer to a person's closest living relatives. In estate matters, "next of kin" generally refers to the person or persons entitled to inherit property under the law. 

In Nevada, the word "heirs" means "persons, including the surviving spouse and the state, who are entitled by intestate succession to the property of a decedent [deceased]." Heirs include the next of kin. 

Identifying a deceased person's next of kin can be necessary for intestate succession. In some instances, the next of kin is the deceased's closest living relative after their children, surviving spouse, parents, and siblings.

Distant next of kin may even be able to inherit property in Nevada; if the deceased "leaves no issue, surviving spouse, parent, brother or sister living at the time of death, the estate goes to the next of kin in equal degree." There are exceptions to this, but it means that even a distant relative may be entitled to inherit.  

Start Your End-Of-Life Planning Today

If you are ready to begin your end-of-life planning, you are in the right place. Cake is an end-of-life planning website designed to help with proactive planning. You can use our planning platform to create and save documents that your family can access to understand your wishes after you are gone. 

If you don't know where to start, we recommend you think about what brought you to our website today. Everyone has a different reason for asking questions about what happens after death. What's yours? Use that as a first step to start your end-of-life planning today. 

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.