Nevada law provides for two ways of creating a valid and binding Last Will and Testament. The first method is by drafting a will, in writing, that is signed by the testator or by an attending person at the testator’s direction, which is attested to by at least two competent witnesses who subscribe their names to the will in the presence of the testator. The second method is often referred to as a “holographic will,” wherein the signature, date and material provisions of a will are written by the hand of the testator. For a holographic will, there is no requirement that it be witnessed or notarized.
When a document meant to be a Will does not comply with the requirements for either a witnessed or holographic Will, a court may not enforce the directions provided about who beneficiaries are and what they should receive. Instead, a court may substitute Nevada’s default rules governing disposition of a person’s estate, which may be completely different from a testator’s wishes.
To ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes, it is important to seek professional legal assistance in drafting a Last Will and Testament or other testamentary documents. Be wary of download-able forms, templates, or non-legal professionals who attempt to provide low-cost alternatives for drafting Wills or Trusts, as these ‘low cost’ alternatives tend to be the much more expensive option in the long run, as families and loved ones have to pay extra attorney's fees and court costs if these documents are not drafted properly.
To review a Will you have already created, or discuss the requirements of what constitutes a valid Last Will and Testament under the laws of Nevada, contact an attorney at JEFFREY BURR today.
Most wills and trusts, in my experience, contain no-contest clauses, which say something like: if a beneficiary contests the terms of my will or trust they get nothing. Most clients like this language. They think it protects them from a beneficiary who comes swinging out of the corner so-to-speak and tries to claim more than what was left to him or her. The problem is that sometimes the no-contest clause protects a will or trust, but sometimes it doesn’t.
Nevada law states that no-contest clauses will be enforced with certain exceptions. It will not be enforced if a beneficiary seeks (1) to enforce the terms of the will or trust, (2) to enforce his or her legal rights under the will or trust, or (3) to have a court construe or determine the legal effect of the will or trust. Also, a no-contest clause will not be enforced in certain circumstances if legal action is brought in good faith and based on probable cause. These exceptions combined with the overarching principle that law abhors forfeitures can at times render a no-contest clause seemingly meaningless. So if you suspect you will have problems with your beneficiaries, please consider consulting with an attorney at Jeffrey Burr, Ltd. about planning around your particular circumstance.
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