5 Important Things You Should Know About Being a Beneficiary.

A “beneficiary” is a person that is identified in a Will or Trust to receive a distribution of all or a part of the Estate. An “heir” is a person identified by the statute to receive all or a part of the estate when there is no Will or Trust. Certain rights attach to being an heir or beneficiary that can impact your right to a portion of the Estate and, even though you are named as a beneficiary in the Will, you may not receive any portion of the Estate.

Is a child that is not mentioned in the Will excluded from a portion of the Estate?

When a child of a testator is omitted from a Will, it is presumed that the omission is intentional and the child is excluded. However, if the child is born after the making of a will by a parent and no provision is included for the child, he or she is entitled to the same share in the estate as if the testator had died without a will.

What happens to a bequest to someone in a Will if they die before the Decedent?

The outcome will depend upon whether they are a lineal descendant. If a beneficiary who is a descendant of the testator dies before the testator, leaving lineal descendants, the property, share or beneficial interest that would have been distributed to that beneficiary is distributed to the beneficiary’s descendants then living. For example, John passes away leaving a will that provides for his assets to be divided equally to his brothers, George, Paul and Ringo. However, George died before John and is survived by a son, Pete. Since Ringo is a lineal descendant, his son would step into his father’s shoes and Pete would be entitled to one-third of the Estate. However, if John had no children and bequeathed his estate in equal shares to his three sisters, the outcome would be different if one of the sisters predeceased John. This is because a niece is considered a “collateral heir” and not a “lineal descendant”.

Is there any way I can receive some amount different than what is provided in the Will?

Yes, under NRS 151.005, the beneficiaries may agree among themselves to alter the interests, shares or amount to which they are entitled under the terms of the Will of the Decedent or the laws of intestacy. For example, if your father passes away without a Will and is survived by three children, the children are free to agree in writing that the Estate be divided other than in equal shares.

Can a lifetime gift reduce the amount of a distribution to a beneficiary at death?

Yes, if the gift is acknowledged in writing by the donee to be intended as a credit against an inheritance. This is known as an advancement. Any property given by the decedent during his or her lifetime as an advancement must be considered as part of the estate for the sole purpose of computing the respective shares of the distributees and is then taken by the donee toward his or her share of the estate. For example, Dad gifts $10,000 to Son and it is acknowledged to be an advancement. Five years later dad passes away and his Estate is valued at $290,000. The $10,000 advancement is included in the Estate and since there are three children, each one would be entitled to $100,000; however, Son would only received $90,000. If the amount of the advancement exceeded the share of the Estate to which the Son was entitled, he is not required to refund any part of the advancement.

Are there times that a beneficiary may not receive any portion of the Estate?

Yes, if the value of the Estate is less than $100,000, the Court could set aside the entire estate without administration to a surviving spouse and their adult children would not receive any portion of the Estate.

For more than 30 years, Attorney Lee A. Drizin has practiced in the areas of estate planning, probate, trusts, guardianship and real estate matters representing clients throughout the state of Nevada

Drizin Law is providing this information for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. This information is based on general principles of Nevada law at the time it was created and you should be aware laws frequently change. Moreover, the laws affecting you may differ depending on the circumstances. You should consult with a qualified attorney in your own state or jurisdiction concerning your particular situation. Review of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.