When someone passes away, there affairs must be taken care of. Nevada law requires that the settling of the affairs of the decedent must be cared for by the estate’s personal representative under the supervision of the District Court (probate court). The process is called estate administration. There are many tasks that that the personal representative must complete in order to settle the affairs of a decedent. However, the two main objectives of estate administration are to pay the debt that the decedent left behind and to distribute the decedent’s property as provided in the decedent’s will or according to Nevada law.
Initiating Estate Administration
To start the administration process, a petition must be filed with the District Court. There is a District Court in each county. The appropriate court is the one in the county where the decedent lived. If the decedent left a will, the administration process is typically initiated by the person nominated in the will to serve as the personal representative– also known as the executor. Otherwise another person who is eligible to be named as personal representative will file the paperwork..
Once the court approves the petition and issues the letters of administration, the personal representative has the legal authority to represent the estate and proceed with the estate administration process. The major tasks that the personal representative must complete include notifying creditors, inventorying the estate, paying estate debt and expenses, and distributing assets.
Notice to creditors. A critical part of the estate administration process is debt payment. Decedents often pass away leaving debt such as credit card bills, car loans, and medical bills. This debt must be addressed and resolved before asset distribution. To begin the process, the personal representative is required to notify creditors by publication and mail. NRS § 147.010. Creditors are required to file claims with the Clerk of the Court. Depending on the size of the estate, creditors have up to 90 days from the date of the notice to file claims. NRS § 147.040
Inventory estate assets. An important part of estate administration is inventorying the assets. It is important for both the court and personal representative because it helps them understand the state of the estate at the outset, including the value its assets. This information is vital because the personal representative must understand if there are enough assets to pay debt and, after debt payment, what is available to distribute. Within 60 days the personal representative must file with the District Court an inventory of estate assets and their value as of the date of the decedent’s death.
Pay debts. Before an estate can be distributed, its debts must be paid. Estate debts can range from unpaid utility bills to credit card bills to personal loans. The personal representative must notify creditors of the claims deadline and creditors must file claims within the claims period to collect payment. The personal representative will review each claim and accept or reject it. Claims that are not timely filed are forever barred. Estate assets must be used to pay estate debt. If there are not sufficient assets in the estate to pay all debt, the personal representative will prioritize debt as required by law and pay debt to the extent there are assets to do so. Debt which has top priority includes expenses of administration, funeral expenses, and the expenses of the decedent’s last illness. If the estate has limited assets and significant debt, debt that is low on the priority list may not be paid.
Distribute assets. The final step in the administration process is to distribute the remaining assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs. However, the court will not give the personal representative permission to distribute assets until creditors have been paid or otherwise resolved. If there is a will, the assets are distributed according to the terms of the will. If there is no will, the assets are distributed according to the Nevada’s laws of intestate succession.