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Nebraska Probate and Estate Tax Laws

Dealing with a loved one's death is a difficult matter and the task of settling the deceased person or decedent's "estate " doesn't make it easier. Fortunately, Nebraska has a number of probate and estate tax laws which can help with the process.

A decedent's estate may include cash, property, or other investments. Settling the decedent’s estate after their passing is referred to as estate administration and it usually occurs with the supervision of a probate court. The process may be relatively quick for uncontested estates or "small estates." In Nebraska, small estates are valued at $50,000 or less. The process may be longer for contested estates. This is a quick summary of Nebraska's probate and estate tax laws.

Nebraska Probate and Estate Tax Laws

The following table outlines Nebraska's probate and estate tax laws.

Code Sections

NEB. REV. STAT. §§ 30-103.01 et. seq., 77-2001 et seq.

Types of Estate Administration

Regular probate proceedings include uncontested and contested estates. Small estates can bypass or go through a simplified version of regular probate proceedings.

Uncontested estates:

The executor files a petition for probate, notice is given to all interested parties of a hearing on the petition, and a judge admits the will into probate.

Contested estates:

After a petition for probate, an interested party can contest the probate by providing written grounds for contest. A judge hears evidence from both sides at a trial and then issues a decision to admit or refuse to admit the will into probate.

Small estates:

Regular probate proceedings can be bypassed by the filing of affidavit by an interested party. For affidavits for personal or real property, the value cannot exceed $50,000 after payment of liens and encumbrances.

A simplied probate process can also be requested to shorten the probate process. The simplified process can be used if the value of the estate, less liens and encumbrances, doesn't exceed allowances, exempt property, administration costs, funeral expenses, and medical expenses of the decedent's last illness which are due.

Family Allowances

The surviving spouse is entitled to a homestead allowance of $7,500 if the decedent died before January 1, 2011 or $20,000 if the decedent died on or after January 1, 2011. If there is no surviving spouse, each of the decedent's dependent or minor children is entitled to their proportionate share of the $7,500 or $20,000 homestead allowance.

In addition to the homestead allowance, the surviving spouse and dependent minor children are entitled to a reasonable family allowance in money from the estate for one year.

What Assets Go Through Probate? A person's real and personal property at the time of his or her death.
Estate or Inheritance Taxes?

Yes. The Nebraska inheritance tax is based on the value of the assets received and the beneficiary's degree of kinship to the decedent.

  • The surviving spouse is exempt from Nebraska's inheritance tax
  • Immediate relatives such as parents, grandparents, siblings, children, and grandchildren are taxed at 1% of the market value of the property. The first $40,000 is exempt from taxes.
  • Remote relatives such as aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews are taxed at 13%. The first $15,000 is exempt from taxes.
  • All other persons or organizations that do not fall into any of the above categories are taxed at 18%. The first $10,000 is exempt from taxes.

Some items, such as employee benefit plans, including life insurance proceeds, are exempt from inheritance taxes and are simply paid directly to the beneficiary. Property left for religious, charitable, or educational purposes are also exempt from inheritance taxes.

Nebraska Probate and Estate Tax Laws: Related Resources

Probate and estate tax laws are confusing. If you would like legal assistance with a probate or estate tax matter, you can contact a Nebraska probate and estate administration attorney. You can also visit FindLaw’s sections on Probate Basics, Estate Tax Laws, and Nebraska Estate Planning Laws for more articles and information on this topic.

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