Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, you may need a probate attorney.  Review the questions below and if the answers to them are yes, you likely need a probate attorney.

  1. Are the assets held outside of probate avoidance vehicles? Certain assets like trusts, life insurance policies and retirement accounts pass automatically to the beneficiary without the need for probate. In addition, property held jointly often passes to the surviving person (usually a spouse) without the need for probate.  If, however, there are substantial assets held outside these vehicles, you will likely need a probate attorney.
  2. Does the size of the estate exceed the “small estate” rules? If probate is required, most states have a streamlined process for small estates  which an executor can usually complete by himself or herself.  In Nevada there are expedited procedures for estates worth less than $100,000.  If the size of the estate exceeds this amount, you likely will need a probate attorney to help you with the process.
  3. Is there family drama? If there is a chance that the family members will fight over the assets, it is important to hire an attorney as soon as  possible. Often an attorney can act as a neutral party to resolve the situation before it escalates.
  4. Does the estate contain a business, commercial real estate or other special assets? If so, it is essential to hire a probate attorney whose has  the expertise to handle these types of matters.
  5. Does the estate lack the funds to pay all its debts? If so, you should consult an attorney to determine which creditors have priority to be paid.
  6. Does the estate owe federal or state estate taxes? Almost all estates do not owe federal estate taxes but many are large enough to owe state estate taxes.  In Nevada….. If the estate exceeds this size, you should consult with a probate attorney.

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