What do you do when someone dies leaving just a car or small bank account in their individual name? Perhaps he had a revocable living trust, but didn’t get all of his assets into the trust before dying. What needs to be done then?
In Nevada, if the assets left in the decedent’s name individually, with no beneficiary designated, total $100,000 or more, then probate is required. What about if these assets total less than $100,000? Well, it depends upon what the assets are, the asset values, and who the heirs are.
Pursuant to N.R.S. 146.080, the person who is entitled to the assets may claim the property on behalf of herself and others that may also be entitled to the assets. The transfer is made by what is referred to as an “Affidavit of Entitlement” or perhaps more commonly a “Small Estate Affidavit.” It is even called a “40-Day Affidavit” sometimes since you must wait 40 days before using it.
This affidavit may only be used if the decedent left no real property needing to be transferred. If real property needs to be transferred, then either a set aside proceeding or a probate proceeding will need to be started.
The small estate affidavit may be used if the gross value of the assets needing to be transferred, over and above amounts due from the Armed Forces of the United States and the value of any vehicles registered in the decedent’s name, does not exceed the “applicable amount.” And the applicable amount is $100,000 if the claimant is the decedent’s surviving spouse. The amount is $25,000 for non-spouse claimants.
This is especially significant for surviving spouses, since the cut off amount for using the small estate affidavit was only $20,000 prior to the change in the fall of 2015.
The other significant enhancement was that, even for non-spouses, the applicable amount is stacked on top of any vehicles the decedent owned. Before, the value of vehicles was included in the $20,000 limit. So it didn’t take much to exceed the cut off amount.
Consequently, due to the changes made be the 2015 Nevada legislature, use of the small estate affidavit has been greatly enhanced. If you have had a loved one die leaving assets in the State of Nevada, please feel free to contact my office to see whether the small estate affidavit is an option for you.