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In Nevada, a will is a legally binding document that specifies how a person wants their belongings allocated after they pass away. In a will, they may designate guardians for their pets, dependents, and offspring, as well as direct their property to specific individuals, companies, or entities.

Even if a person has a will, problems can occur if:

  • The will does not meet legal requirements,

  • The language in the will is unclear, or

  • Heirs disagree about how to interpret the will.

Consider the case of Arlan Bethurem’s estate. In accordance with Arlan's prior will, the special administrator of his estate has requested that his assets be put aside without administration. In a lawsuit against this petition, Arlan's stepdaughters claimed that a beneficiary of the previous will had unfairly influenced him through frequent phone calls. The aforementioned beneficiary disputed these accusations. And because the will contenders were unable to satisfy the burden of proof, the court ordered that Arlan's estate be distributed following the previous will.

This case demonstrates the significance of leaving a clear and thorough will to avoid problems or contests in the future. 

Understanding the applicable Nevada inheritance laws discussed on this page is also essential. These include the steps involved in creating and executing a legally binding will. It also outlines the inheritance rights of a decedent's relatives if there is no will.

What Happens if Someone Dies With a Will in Nevada?

In Nevada, an estate is considered "testate" if a person passes away with a valid will. As a result, their assets and property will be distributed to their beneficiaries according to the conditions they have stated in their will.

Will Requirements

Anyone who is 18 years old and above, has a sound mind, and is capable of making testaments may make a will in Nevada. To create a valid will in Nevada, the person writing the will must understand the value of their property and assets, know who their family members are, and be  mentally capable of making decisions about distributing their property Additionally, the will must meet the following conditions to be recognized as valid:

  • The will must be in written form.

  • The will has to be signed by the testator or an authorized representative.

  • The will has to be attested and signed by two people.

Holographic or handwritten wills are legal in Nevada as long as the document is dated, contains the testator's signature, and specifies who will receive the property. To prove that a holographic will is legitimate, the testator must provide the court with the testimony of a handwriting expert or testimonies from two persons who will receive nothing under the will, attesting to their knowledge of the decedent's handwriting.

Electronic wills are occasionally accepted as well in Nevada, as long as:

  • They are composed, produced, and saved as an electronic document.

  • There is only one authentic copy in existence, and the testator or designated custodian is in charge of monitoring and maintaining it.

  • The official copy can be easily distinguished from those that have been altered or copied. 

  • They have the testator's electronic signature, which incorporates at least one form of testator authentication.

A Nevada estate planning lawyer can assist citizens in creating and executing their wills. By giving precise directions about the distribution of the testator's assets, they can also reduce the possibility of disagreements and misunderstandings among beneficiaries.


According to Nevada's inheritance laws, whoever has the will of someone who passed away must give it to the district court clerk in the deceased person's hometown within 30 days after the death.


The process of confirming a will's legality, resolving an estate's debts, and transferring property under court supervision is known as probate. Keep in mind that not every asset owned by the deceased must go through the probate process. Some non-probate assets in Nevada are as follows:

  • Retirement accounts like 401(k)s, Roth IRAs, and IRAs.

  • Life insurance plans with surviving beneficiaries.

  • Property kept in a trust.

  • Real estate under joint occupancy.

  • Property with a deed that transfers ownership upon death.

  • Payable-on-death bank accounts.

  • Transfer-upon-death vehicles.

Contesting a Will

In Nevada, a will is recognized as valid unless it is contested. The only people who can challenge a will are interested parties or those with legal standing over the estate. In other words, the only people in Nevada who can contest a will are the beneficiaries specified in the will, the heirs specified in a prior will, or individuals who would be entitled to inherit anything if the deceased did not leave a will.

Interested parties usually challenge a will's validity if they can demonstrate that:

  • The will was improperly signed or executed.

  • The will was obtained fraudulently.

  • Someone pressured or unfairly influenced the testator.

  • The testator's mental ability was insufficient when they created the will.

Will Contest Process

A will contest is similar to litigation. It is subject to the same broad standards that apply to civil litigation. The plaintiff is the party contesting the will, while the defendant is the party who filed the petition for probate of the will. Each side is entitled to gather information about the other parties using "discovery" procedures, which include written interrogations of other third parties and potential witnesses. The probate judge hears the case and decides if the will is legal.

An estate's children may benefit from the assistance of a Nevada probate attorney, who can represent their rights and interests in negotiation or litigation.

Statute of Limitations

Interested parties may challenge the legitimacy of the will within three months after it is submitted to the probate court. The contestant is required to submit two documents to the court where the will was petitioned: (1) an appeal outlining their claims, and (2) a request to stop the probate procedure.

What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will in Nevada?

Individuals who die without a will in Nevada will have their estate categorized as intestate, and their assets will be distributed under intestate succession laws. The percentage that each family member will get from the decedent's property is specified by these laws. Keep in mind that the estate of the deceased must still go through a similar probate process, known as administration, even if they did not make a will. The following are the general steps in the administration of an intestate:

  1. Usually, the first step in the probate procedure is to file a petition with the court in the county where the deceased lived. In the event that there is no will, a capable family member may submit the petition. 

  2. Following the filing of the petition, the court will name an administrator to oversee the probate process.

  3. The assets of the deceased will be located, gathered, and valued by the administrator. These assets could consist of personal belongings, real estate, bank and investment accounts, and other items that belonged to the deceased before the time of their passing.

  4. Using the assets, the administrator will pay out the decedent's obligations, including debts, taxes, attorney fees, and other payables.

  5. The beneficiaries will get the remaining assets upon the settlement of the payables. The rights of prospective beneficiaries under the intestate succession laws of Nevada are discussed in the following sections.

Spousal Rights

Nevada follows the community property system for the rights of surviving spouses in intestate succession. What the surviving spouse receives under this system is determined by how they and their late spouse acquired the property — as separate property or as community property. Separate property is property that two people obtained before marriage, whereas community property is property that two people gained during their marriage.

  • If the decedent has no children and dies intestate, their spouse inherits their whole estate.

  • If the decedent has only one child, their spouse will receive all of their community property plus one-half of their separate property. The child will receive the remaining 50% of the separate property.

  • If the decedent has two or more children, their spouse receives all community property and one-third of their separate property. The kids will each receive an equal portion of the remaining two-thirds of the decedent's separate property.

Community property laws take the following factors into account when determining inheritance:

  • Money obtained through employment.

  • Assets purchased during the marriage.

  • Shared separate property.

Children’s Rights

Each type of child has the following inheritance rights under Nevada intestate succession laws:

  • Offspring by birth. The biological offspring will automatically inherit a portion of the estate.

  • Children that were adopted. Just like biological children, legally adopted children will get a share of the estate.

  • Children born during domestic partnerships. Every child born during a domestic partnership will inherit a portion of their parent's estate.

  • Kids born outside of matrimony. Even if the decedent is not married or in a registered domestic partnership with the mother of their children, the child will still be entitled to an intestate share if one of the following conditions is satisfied: 

    • The decedent admitted to being the father of the kid.

    • The deceased established paternity in the courtroom.

  • Grandchildren. If the parent of the grandchild — the decedent's son or daughter — is not living to receive their part, the grandchild will get an intestate share.

  • Children born after the decedent's death. A portion of the decedent's assets will go to children who were conceived but were not born prior to their passing.

  • Stepchildren and foster kids. Foster kids and stepchildren that the deceased never formally adopted will not automatically get a portion of the estate.

  • Kids put up for adoption. There will be no portion given to the children the decedent put up for adoption and who were afterward lawfully adopted by someone else.

The Rights of Other Surviving Relatives

If an unmarried person in Nevada passes away without a legal will, their surviving parents will receive their estate. If their parents are not living, their estate will be distributed evenly among their siblings. If the unmarried individual's parents and siblings are no longer alive, their estate will be distributed to their nearest living relative.

Estates With No Heirs

If a person dies in Nevada without a valid will and has no living relatives, the state will take ownership of their property and assets. In such instances, the Clark County Public Administrator will oversee and manage the estate. Once creditors, burial and funeral expenses, legal fees, administrative charges, and any necessary IRS filings have been paid by the administrator, any remaining monies will be used to support Nevada's education fund.

Unique Situations in Nevada Inheritance Law

Listed below are some of the unique circumstances in laws related to inheritance in Nevada:

  • Immigrants - Individuals who are classified as relatives of the deceased have the right to get a share of the deceased's assets, no matter where they came from or whether they are residing in the state legally or not.

  • Partial relatives - Nevada inheritance law does not distinguish between half and full relatives. Half-relatives, such as stepbrothers and stepsisters, enjoy the same inheritance rights as full relatives.

  • Posthumous family members - Children who were conceived before a person's death but born after the death will inherit a share of the person's property.

  • Stepchildren. As previously stated, stepchildren do not automatically inherit a share of the estate. On the other hand, the stepchild will inherit some property from the decedent's spouse if that spouse passes away without a valid will and other heirs.

  • The Killer Rule. The estate will not provide any inheritance to someone who kills the deceased intentionally.

Does Nevada Impose Inheritance and Estate Taxes?

Estate and inheritance taxes are not levied in Nevada. The estate tax is deducted from the deceased's estate after their death. The tax that the heirs of the deceased pay after receiving their inheritance is known as inheritance tax. 

Additionally, there is no gift tax in Nevada. However in 2024, if a gift exceeds $18,000, the recipient is obliged to submit a federal gift tax return.

There is no gift tax in Nevada. But in 2024, if someone receives a gift valued at more than $18,000, they must file a federal gift tax return. Note that it is important to verify the gift tax exclusion amount because it changes each year due to inflation. Furthermore, the following gifts are not taxable and are not included in tax returns:

  • Presents for spouses.

  • Funds for medical and educational expenses.

  • Gifts to political organizations.

  • Donations to qualifying charities.

In addition to the federal gift tax, Nevada requires the following tax returns:

  • Federal estate tax return. If the inheritance exceeds $13.61 million, the estate's executor or administrator is required to submit a federal estate tax return. The maximum tax rate that can apply is 40%.

  • Income tax from a different state. Even though a person resides in Nevada, they will still be required to pay inheritance taxes if they inherit an estate from a resident of a state where inheritance taxes are levied.

Legal Resources Related to Inheritance Law in Nevada

State Bar of Nevada

The State Bar of Nevada is a public corporation that governs legal professionals in Nevada. It provides a lawyer recommendation service so that locals can get assistance in finding suitable resources for their legal issues. Individuals who wish to utilize this service can do so by calling 702-382-0504 or the toll-free number 1-800-789-5747. They can also look for a qualified attorney by using the self-directed portal

The State Bar of Nevada also provides English and Spanish legal information publications for educational and public service reasons. The Publications Department can be reached at 702-382-2200 or

Nevada Legal Services

The Nevada Legal Services provides free services to minorities, women, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals in Nevada. It assists with different topics, including family law, public benefits, worker's rights, consumer rights, unemployment, landlord-tenant disputes, immigration, and criminal record sealing. To be eligible for free legal aid, citizens must submit an online intake form.

Contact Information of its Las Vegas Office
Phone Number: 702-386-0404 or 866-432-0404 
Address: 701 E. Bridger Ave., Suite 400, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Civil Law Self-Help Center

The Civil Law Self-Help Center offers legal guidance and knowledge to citizens of Southern Nevada. To help educate the public on court procedures and rules, it offers a variety of resources, including books, pamphlets, films, websites, and legal forms. Probate, housing and eviction, small claims, harassment and protection, garnishment, illegal towing or immobilization, and judicial review of unemployment judgments are among the topics it covers.

Contact Information
Phone Number: 702-386-1070
Address: 200 Lewis Avenue Las Vegas, NV89104

Senior Law Program

A nonprofit organization called the Senior Law Program offers free legal assistance to elders 60 years of age or older in Southern Nevada. Its Estate Planning Program helps seniors who meet the eligibility requirements put their estate planning desires in writing. Writing a will, granting permission for burial or cremation, registering a healthcare power of attorney lockbox, and obtaining deeds upon death are some of the services that fall under the program.

Contact Information
Phone Number: 702-229-6596
Fax: 702-384-0314
Address: 7690 West Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89117

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