A last will and testament is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (real and personal property) upon your death. Nevada wills permit the testator, the person writing the will, to provide for a spouse, children, other loved ones, and pets after his death as well as to name a personal representative for the estate.
Not to be confused with a will, a Nevada living will provides instructions should you become incapacitated and incapable of making decisions regarding your medical care.
Do You Need a Last Will and Testament?
Although a last will and testament is not legally required, without a will, the laws of intestacy determine the distribution of an estate's assets. Because the outcome may not coincide with the decedent's wishes, it is generally advisable to create a last will and testament.
In addition to providing the opportunity to direct asset distribution, a Nevada last will and testament also allows the testator to make a charitable gift, create a trust for any person, name a legal guardian for minor children, or create a “pet trust” in order to provide for the care of an animal after its owner’s death.
Before the terms of a Nevada last will and testament can be effectuated, the will must be proven in probate court. Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing the estate of a deceased person.
Nevada has five different possibilities for probate administration depending on the value of the estate:
(1) Affidavit of Entitlement
(2) Assets Set Aside without Administration
(3) Summary Administration
(4) Regular Administration
(5) Independent Administration
Intestacy: Dying Without a Will
Someone who dies without a will is called “intestate,” which invokes the strict laws of intestacy. In Nevada in the absence of a will, a surviving spouse inherits the entire estate unless the decedent also has children, in which case the spouse receives all of the decedent’s community property and one-half or one-third of separate property. A surviving spouse and parents split the estate if there are no children.
If there is no surviving spouse, descendants, or parents, other relatives, including siblings and grandparents, will inherit depending on the closeness of the relation.
Exceptions to Ability to Distribute Property
Not all property can be distributed according to a will. Some exceptions in Nevada include community property with right of survivorship and life insurance policy proceeds.
Nevada also provides “support of family,” which provides that the surviving spouse and minor children are entitled to the family homestead and provisions (furniture, clothing, etc.), certain personal property exemptions, and a family allowance if the property set aside is insufficient.
Form a Last Will in Nevada
The basic requirements for a Nevada last will and testament include the following:
- Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old.
- Capacity: The testator must be of sound mind.
- Signature: The will must be signed by the testator or by an attending person at the testator’s direction.
- Witnesses: A Nevada will must be signed by at least two witnesses who are not beneficiaries in the presence of the testator.
- Writing: A Nevada will must be in writing to be valid.
- Beneficiaries: A testator can leave property to anyone.
Other Recognized Wills in Nevada
Nevada recognizes holographic (handwritten) and electronic wills that comply with Nevada law regarding such wills.
Changing a Nevada Last Will and Testament
A Nevada will may be changed at any time by codicil, which must be executed in the same way as a will.
Revoking a Nevada Last Will and Testament
The revocation of a Nevada will can be accomplished by executing a subsequent will or by “[b]urning, tearing, or obliterating ” the document with the intent to revoke it, done by either the testator or by someone else at his direction in his presence.
In Nevada, if the testator gets married after executing the will and the spouse survives the testator, the will is revoked as to the spouse, with some exceptions. On the other hand, if the testator gets divorced or has his marriage annulled after executing the will, certain provisions in favor of the ex-spouse are revoked.
When you are ready to make a last will of your own, LegalZoom can help. You can start make a will online in three easy steps.