Washoe County Public Administrator

Donald L. Cavallo

don cavallo

P.O. Box 7360
Reno, NV 89510-7360
(775) 861-4000
Fax (775) 861-4041


As Washoe County Public Administrator, Donald L. Cavallo is an elected Officer entrusted to oversee the administration of the estates of persons deceased in Washoe County who have no qualified person willing or able to administer. Mr. Cavallo has held this position since 1987 with the exception of one term from 1995 to 1999.

NRS 253.0405 Circumstances under which the public administrator may secure property of deceased.  Before the issuance of the letters of administration for an estate, before filing an affidavit to administer an estate pursuant to NRS 253.0403 or before petitioning to have an estate set aside pursuant to NRS 253.0425, the public administrator may secure the property of a deceased person if the administrator finds that:     
1.  There are no relatives of the deceased who are able to protect the property; or
2.  Failure to do so could endanger the property. (Added to NRS by 1983, 1597; A 1991, 197; 1999, 918; 2009, 2269)

In accordance with state law, the Public Administrator may ensure that the property of a decedent is safeguarded when the Medical Examiner-Coroner or law enforcement requests the assistance of the Public Administrator’s Office when they respond to a death and are unable to immediately locate a family member or when one or more of the following conditions exist:

  • there are no known heirs
  • an executor has not been appointed
  • the named executor of a Last Will and Testament fails to act
  • the Last Will and Testament names the Public Administrator as executor
  • an heir or heirs requests or petitions to have the Public Administrator appointed as the administrator of the estate
  • the Public Administrator determines property of the estate, or property deemed to have value to the estate, is being neglected, wasted, lost, inappropriately transferred, etc.

Payment of Estate Funds for Funeral/Burial Expenses
When acting as Administrator of the Estate, the Public Administrator may pay funeral and burial expenses from available estate funds, within the ability of the estate to pay, and in accordance with the decedent’s wishes or as provided through Washoe County Social Services.  If estate funds are insufficient, Washoe County Social Services may furnish the burial or cremation for persons who meet eligibility guidelines.

Selling Property
If the estate has sufficient cash or liquid assets available to pay administrative, legal, and accounting fees and expenses, as well as taxes and creditor claims, the Public Administrator does not ordinarily sell estate assets, such as real property, securities, or jewelry, without the agreement of the heirs.  In situations where estate assets are sold, they are generally liquidated at public auction, unless otherwise provided by NRS 148.