A will is an important first step for a complete estate plan. A will protects your loved ones and lets you decide who manages your estate, who inherits your property, and who cares for your young children. But you may not know how to get started or how to make your will valid in Nevada. We have the answers to your FAQs about Nevada wills.
Table of Contents
Ready to make a will? FindLaw Legal Forms and Services has a solution for you.
What If I Die Without a Will in Nevada?
When a person with a will dies, their will outlines how to distribute personal property, real estate, and assets to the heirs and family members. If a decedent does not have a will, they die “intestate” and intestacy laws apply.
Under intestate succession in Nevada, if there is a surviving spouse or children, they inherit the estate. If not, the next of kin, such as parents, siblings, or grandparents, inherit. If no next of kin exists, your estate goes to the state.
So, if you have a partner but are not married or a stepchild that you have not adopted, they may be left out of your estate.
Your will makes sure your property goes to your loved ones, not the state of Nevada.
What Does a Will Do?
A Nevada last will and testament lets you decide who manages your estate, inherits your property, and cares for your minor children. Here are some general provisions you might include in your will:
- Name a personal representative or executor. Your personal representative submits your will to the probate court, locates your estate’s assets, and follows your will instructions.
- Specifically identify and give away personal property and real estate to your beneficiaries
- Name guardians for your minor children
- Name caregivers for pets and provide funds for their care
- Make gifts to charity
Having a will streamlines the probate process. Because you made these decisions, a court does not have to, which saves your loved ones time and money in probate court.
What Doesn’t a Will Do?
While you give your personal and real property in your will, there are other assets, accounts, and policies that transfer outside of your will. These non-probate assets go to beneficiaries according to the terms of their own legal documents. For example, you may have a bank account with a transfer on death beneficiary or a named beneficiary on a life insurance policy. These types of non-probate assets may include:
- Funds in payable on death or transfer on death bank accounts or investment accounts
- Retirement accounts, pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, and Keoghs
- Life insurance and annuity proceeds (to beneficiaries other than to the estate itself)
- Property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship
- Property owned by trusts, including living trusts and irrevocable trusts
You may want to check your accounts and policies for correct beneficiary designations. Be sure to name a backup beneficiary in the event your primary beneficiary dies before you. Any assets, accounts, or policies without a beneficiary go into your probate estate. A smaller probate estate may qualify you for summary administration which is a shortened probate proceeding. In Nevada, if an estate with gross value (after deducting any liens or mortgages) does not exceed $300,000, it may go through summary administration.
Who Can Make a Will in Nevada?
Under Nevada law, the person making a will, called the testator, must meet the following requirements.
- Age: The testator is at least 18 years old
- Sound Mind: The testator has a sound mind. The standard for mental capacity to make a will in Nevada requires that the testator understands they are making a will, know what property they own, and know who their natural heirs at law (meaning their next of kin).
A testator may have memory issues, but if they have a sound mind at the time they sign their will, it is valid. Nevada residents with concerns about whether they can make a will should consult with an estate planning attorney for legal advice.
Does Nevada Have a Statutory Will?
No. Nevada does not have a statutory will or form for a will. You can hire an attorney to draft one or do it yourself with online resources, such as FindLaw Legal Forms and Services. When using online legal services, it is important to use one that complies with Nevada law.
What Types of Wills Does Nevada Accept?
Most will are typewritten or printed and then signed by the testator. However, it is a good idea to understand other types of wills and Nevada’s rules about them.
- Handwritten Will: A handwritten or holographic will is a will that the testator writes in their own handwriting but does not have any witnesses or notary attesting to their signature. Under NRS 133.090 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, Nevada only accepts holographic wills if the material provisions are in the testator’s handwriting and the testator signs and dates their will. The court must then authenticate that the handwriting was the testator’s handwriting.
- Oral Will: An oral will, called nuncupative will, is a spoken will. Nevada does not recognize oral wills.
- Electronic Will: Nevada allows electronic wills, which are wills maintained as an electronic record, and signed, witnessed, and notarized through electronic methods. This method requires using an attorney, as there are specific procedures for creating and finalizing electronic wills.
The most traditional way of making a will is typing or printing your will and signing in front of two witnesses and a notary. This method helps prevent challenges that you made your will as a result of fraud, mistake, or undue influence.
Can I Make My Own Will in Nevada?
Yes. State law does not require that you use an attorney to create your will. You do not need an attorney to create the document if you know what property you own and who you want to give it to. Many people who prefer doing it themselves use an online will drafting service, such as FindLaw Legal Forms and Services. The benefit is that they can customize it for their needs and update it when they want. Creating a new will is easier than amending or adding a codicil to the original will.
How Do I Make My Will Valid in Nevada?
- Signature: The testator must sign the will or direct someone else to sign for them in their presence.
- Witnesses: Two competent witnesses must be in the testator’s presence when the testator signs their will. A competent witness generally means someone who is able to testify in court. Avoid using interested witnesses when possible. An interested witness is a witness who is also a beneficiary under the will. An interested witness will not invalidate your will in Nevada. However, if there are not at least two other disinterested witnesses to your will, the gift to the interested witness becomes void.
- Notary: There is no requirement in Nevada to have a notary public attest your will to make it valid. However, you may use an attestation clause or a self-proving affidavit requiring a notary’s signature.
- Self-Proving Affidavit: Nevada allows you to add an attestation clause to your will to make it self-proving. An attestation clause is a statement your witnesses sign when you execute your will, and the notary signs the affidavit. The benefit of this clause is that your will becomes self-proving. The probate court does not need proof of your signature, and your witnesses don’t have to testify that you signed the will.
Can I Disinherit My Spouse in Nevada?
You do not have to leave your spouse anything in your will. However, if left out of your will, Nevada gives a surviving spouse rights to your property. Unless the surviving spouse waives their statutory rights in a premarital agreement, they may receive one-half of all community property, and a homestead and a family allowance.
Can I Disinherit My Children in Nevada?
A child does not have the right to inherit from you. However, if a child is born or adopted after you sign their will, they may be entitled to receive a share of your property if the court thinks you omitted them by mistake. Additionally, a minor child may receive a homestead and allowance. If you want to disinherit a child, you should specifically mention them in the will as disinherited along with the reasons.
What Estate Planning Documents Should I Have in Nevada?
A will is a critical legal document after your death. However, other estate planning documents are helpful to you and your family during your lifetime and make a complete estate plan.
- Power of Attorney. A power of attorney lets you name someone to manage your financial life when you cannot, for example, if you are incapacitated or even out of town. They can pay bills, provide for your family, and handle tax matters. You decide what powers to grant your agent.
- Health Care Directive. A health care directive or living will allows you to give instructions for your end-of-life care and treatment, including life-prolonging measures. You can also name a health care agent in your health care directive. Your health care agent is someone you trust to access your medical information and make health care decisions when you can’t speak for yourself.
Fortunately, making a valid will and creating other Nevada estate planning documents is easy with online estate planning templates.