What is Probate


Probate is the court process of managing the affairs of the deceased, also referred to as the decedent. The probate court is charged with overseeing the management of the decedent’s estate and adhering to the specifications within the will.


During probate, a Personal Representative, the person named in the will, is appointed by the court to settle the estate. Without a will, the court appoints an administrator to carry out the same functions; typically the decedent’s spouse or a close family member.

While the Personal Representative or administrator is not normally liable for the deceased person’s debts, they are obligated to act in the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries. Since the duties of being a Personal Representative or administrator are complex, it is advisable to consult with a Las Vegas probate attorney regarding all of the duties and obligations of being an Personal Representative or administrator prior to accepting this very important responsibility.


In many cases, the financial affairs of the decedent cannot be settled without going to court. This process could take from four to six months, sometimes longer. While this can be frustrating, it is important for beneficiaries to understand that there are benefits to the probate process.

Probate in Nevada is opened as soon as practical following an individual’s death. If the amount of the decedent’s assets exceed $20,000, then probate is required. The state of Nevada requires that the person in possession of the will to deliver it to the district court within 30 days following the person’s death.

Steps in the Probate Process:

  • Submit to the District Court a Petition for Issuance of Letters of Testamentary or a Petition for Issuance of Letters of Administration.
  • Ten days before the hearing, prepare a notice to notify all interested parties of the hearing date.
  • Take control of the decedent’s assets.
  • Within 60 days of Personal Representative’s appointment, file an inventory of assets with the Clerk’s Office.
    • Within 10 days of filing the inventory, mail a copy of the inventory to all heirs or beneficiaries.
  • Publish and mail a notice to creditors.
  • Pay debts and claims against the estate.
  • File the decedent’s final personal income tax returns.
  • Within six months of Personal Representative’s appointment, file verified account and report with the court.
  • Distribute remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
  • Before closing the estate, file a final account and report with the court.

Some property will not need to be inventoried, as it will not enter into probate. These include death benefits, joint property, any property in a trust, and transfer-on-death deeds.

If a will does not exist, then a nearly identical process called administration is used to settle the decedent’s affairs. Administration determines who is entitled to property from the estate under the rules of inheritance. This condition is also referred to as intestacy.


The process of probate sets guidelines that a Personal Representative can use to help them manage the affairs of the decedent. The structured process of probate can be considered favorable for many reasons.

Probate Benefits:

  • All functions performed by the Personal Representative are monitored by the court.
  • The Personal Representative must:
    • Follow probate procedures.
    • Provide periodic accountings to the court.
    • Account for all disbursements against the estate.
    • Act in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

While Personal Representatives are responsible for settling the decedent’s affairs, probate does not give them supreme control over the assets. Beneficiaries can voice their concerns to the probate judge if they feel that the Personal Representative is mismanaging the estate. Although it can be a lengthy process, probate is necessary to settle the decedent’s affairs while the court oversees the actions of the Personal Representative and ensures that he or she acts in the best interests of the beneficiaries at all times.


If you have been appointed as a Personal Representative or administrator of an estate and are feeling overwhelmed, probate attorneys can help ensure that the process is completed correctly and in a timely manner. Although you can open probate or administration on your own, it is strongly recommended that you seek the assistance of a qualified Nevada probate attorney who has extensive experience handling estate matters.


Brian C. Tanko can guide you through the probate or estate administration process to help mediate disputes with creditors and heirs, avoid potential financial risks, and provide counsel on the disbursement of assets. Contact the Law Offices of Brian C. Tanko today to schedule a free consultation. Fill out our contact form and tell us how we can help you.