Frequently Asked Questions
If you do not have a family member or close friend who you feel would be able to handle the duties and responsibilities of Executor of your Will, you may give consideration to naming the Washoe County Public Administrator as your Executor. When preparing the Will, clearly note that you name the Washoe County Public Administrator as the Executor of your Will. It is important that you notify our office in advance if possible so that we are aware of this potential appointment.
Fees are charged according to the actions taken by the Public Administrator.
- When the Public Administrator's Office takes action prior to Court appointment to protect the estate of an individual who dies in Washoe County, or a part of the estate, until family or a legal representative are able to take possession, he or she is entitled to fair and reasonable compensation pursuant to NRS 253.050(3).
- When the Public Administrator is appointed by the Court, he or she is entitled to fair and reasonable fees and expenses in accordance with NRS 150, and as submitted to and granted by the Court.
- Upon payment, all compensation is subsequently paid into the Washoe County General Fund.
In general, the Washoe County Public Administrator's Office handles the personal and real property of a decedent. The responsibility and expertise for handling the decedent and the arrangements for the decedent fall to the Washoe County Medical Examiner and/or the Mortuary.
In situations where the Public Administrator is either appointed to administer the estate of a decedent or files an Affidavit to Administer a Small Estate, the Public Administrator may authorize payment from the estate funds to pay the funeral expenses previously arranged by family or reimburse whoever paid for the funeral arrangements in advance. When limited funds are available in the estate, the Public Administrator may provide a referral to Washoe County Social Services who will then provide arrangements according to their policies and procedures. The Public Administrator will reimburse Washoe County Social Services if and when sufficient funding becomes available during the administration of the estate.
It can seem overwhelming when faced with handling all of the affairs of a loved one, but if you'll take it one step at a time, you'll not only survive the process, but you'll complete the process successfully.
Since the Washoe County Public Administrator's Office does not have attorneys on staff, we cannot and do not provide legal advice. We can refer you to various resources who may be of assistance, but we cannot direct you or advise you what to do.
The first and strongest recommendation is to encourage you to seek out proper legal advice from a Nevada licensed probate attorney.
Depending on the gross value of the estate and the ages and relationship of the heirs, the requirements of the estate could vary. There are some resources available that may help provide some direction, links to some of these can be found on the Public Administrator's Useful Tools and Resources page.
Once the Public Administrator has been appointed by the Court to administer the estate and makes the determination that personal property owned by the estate is to be sold, property is generally submitted to auction, unless when applicable, the unanimous preference of the beneficiaries is otherwise.
Once the Public Administrator has been appointed by the Court to administer the estate and makes the determination that real property owned by the estate is to be sold, based on the value of the estate, the administrative costs and debts owed, and when applicable, the preferences of the beneficiaries, a listing agreement is entered into with a licensed realtor to list the property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Purchase Agreements entered into by the Public Administrator are presented to the Court for approval and remain subject to open bidding at the hearing.
In accordance with state law, the Public Administrator may ensure that the property of a decedent is safeguarded when the Coroner or law enforcement agency requests the assistance of the Public Administrator’s Office or when one or more of the following conditions exist:
- There are no known heirs or named executor or executrix, and the estate, or any part, is deemed by the Public Administrator to be at risk.
- The named executor or executrix of a Will fails to act.
- The Will names the Public Administrator as executor.
- The Court appoints the Public Administrator to act to protect and/or administer an estate.
The Public Administrator has authority to act to secure property immediately upon the death of a decedent as granted by Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 253. When appointed by Court, the Public Administrator has authority to act as the administrator of an estate subject to Nevada Revised Statute, Title 12 – Wills and Estates of Deceased Persons, and the oversight of the Court.
Individuals should secure their Original Will in a safe location. However, if you place it in a Safe Deposit Box, be certain that a trusted individual either has the authority and ability to access the Safe Deposit Box or has a copy of the will in the event something should happen to you. If no other party is authorized to access the Safe Deposit Box, a Court Order will be required to open the box.