What happens if somebody dies without a Will?

If you die without a Will in Nevada your assets will pass according to the intestate laws of Nevada.  If you are married at the time of death, it must be determined whether your property is community or separate property.  Assets that are acquired during the course of the marriage are considered “community property”.  Property that is received through a gift or inheritance during the marriage, assuming it is not commingled with community assets, will be considered separate property.

Upon your death, your surviving spouse is entitled to your one-half interest in the community property.  However, if there are separate property assets, the distribution is very different. If the person passing away (the “Decedent”) leaves a surviving spouse and only one child, or the lawful issue of one child, the estate goes one-half to the surviving spouse and one-half to the child or the issue of the child.  If the Decedent leaves a surviving spouse and more than one child living, or a child and the lawful issue of one or more deceased children, the estate goes one-third to the surviving spouse and the remainder in equal shares to the children and the lawful issue of any deceased child by right of representation.  If there is no surviving spouse then the assets would be divided equally between the children and the lawful issue of a deceased child.  For example, Frank passes and is survived by his sons, Frank, Jr. and Dean.  He is predeceased by his wife and another son, Sammy, who has two children, Joey and Peter.  Frank’s estate would be inherited as follows: 1/3 to Frank, Jr.; 1/3 to Dean; and 1/6 to Joey; and 1/6 to Peter.

The Nevada intestacy laws address numerous different scenarios including when a person is not survived by a spouse or children.  There is also a process for the property to pass to the State of Nevada in certain situations if no family of the Decedent or a predeceased spouse can be located.

One of the significant advantages of a Will is that you control who your assets are distributed to upon your death.  The use of a Revocable Living Trust provides even more control as to the timing of those distributions, for example 50% upon attaining the age of 25 years and the balance at age 30.  It should be remembered that these intestacy laws will only apply to probate assets and do not control payable on death designations or assets owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.

For more information about effective ways to control the distribution of your assets at death, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (702) 798-4955.

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