Probate is the technical, legal term for distribution of the deceased person's estate under the supervision of the court. It is designed to protect all those who have an interest in the deceased's property, such as immediate family, joint tenants, creditors and the taxing authorities.
Probate proceedings are needed to ensure an orderly transfer of property. It is also necessary to:
In most cases, a personal representative is responsible for handling and settling the deceased's estate. Their responsibilities include:
A person dies testate if they left a will. One dies intestate if that person does not have a valid will at the time of death. If a person dies intestate, then the laws of Nevada, in effect at the time of death, determine who the heirs are and hence who receives the decedent's property.
A will is a written document, which after your death gives instructions for how you want your individually-owned property to be distributed. A will may also indicate who is to be in charge of your property until it is distributed and who will take care of your minor children if the other parent should also be dead. If a person dies without leaving a valid will, the property will be distributed according to the dictates of intestate succession under Nevada law.
A guardian is a person appointed by the probate court to provide for the care and custody of another person called a ward. If the court decides the ward is legally incapacitated or incapable of taking care of him or herself, it may give the guardian authority to make all decisions on behalf of the ward. Sometimes the court may also limit the guardian's authority to specific decisions.
A conservator is a person appointed by the probate court to take care of the property or estate of another person who is considered by the court to be unable to handle his or her own financial affairs. The conservator is responsible to the court for how the ward's funds or property are managed.
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Copyright: Dempsey, Roberts & Smith, Ltd. 2012.