Estate Planning and Procrastination: Doing Nothing is a Choice

By Kristen A. Moe, Esq.

We all do it. Sometimes we say, “I’ll do it tomorrow”, and tomorrow never comes. Procrastination is the “thief of time”.[1] Some people delay Estate Planning because of a perception that Wills are complicated, others may have difficulty talking about the subject for personal reasons or think that their estates will pass to their heirs in any event. Estate Planning is fact-based and necessarily situational, but a broad overview of Wills might help erase the ennui that accompanies all procrastination.  

Making a Will requires action. Why make a Will? The greatest benefit is that you control—through your testamentary dispositions—what property you want to pass to your beneficiaries after your death. Personal possessions and real property can always be given during our lives, but Wills designate what passes to our beneficiaries after our death.

So, let’s take a look at Wills.

Who May Make A Will

Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 133.020 covers who may make a Will. A person must over the age of 18 and of sound mind.

Execution of a Will

NRS 133.040 requires that the Will must be in writing, signed by the Testator, or by an attending person at the testator’s express direction, and attested by at least two competent witnesses who subscribe their names to the will in the presence of the testator. This is a valid Will executed in front of a Notary by the Testator and two witnesses.

Nevada also permits you, the Testator, to write your own Will, and as long as the material provisions are included, signed and dated, it has the same force and effect as if formally executed. NRS 133.090. This Will type is called a Holographic Will.

Revocation of a Will

Besides revocation by marriage, NRS 133.20 lists a number of ways to revoke a Will, e.g., (a)

Burning, tearing, cancelling or obliterating the will, with the intention of revoking it, by the testator, or by some person in the presence and at the direction of the testator; or, (b) Another will or codicil in writing.


Intestacy means that the decedent died without a will. The intestacy laws are contained in Chapter 34, Succession.  NRS 134.005 –  NRS 134.210.

Some of these laws may be of interest in your Estate Planning objectives. For example,

NRS 134.120  Escheat.  If the decedent leaves no surviving spouse or kindred, the estate escheats to the State for educational purposes.

NRS 134.160  Kindred of half-blood.  Kindred of the half blood inherit equally with those of the whole blood in the same degree.

NRS 134.040  Surviving spouse and issue.

      1.  If the decedent leaves a surviving spouse and only one child, or the lawful issue of one child, the estate goes one-half to the surviving spouse and one-half to the child or the issue of the child.

      2.  If the decedent leaves a surviving spouse and more than one child living, or a child and the lawful issue of one or more deceased children, the estate goes one-third to the surviving spouse and the remainder in equal shares to the children and the lawful issue of any deceased child by right of representation.

If you have a choice to make your Estate Plan, take a minute to contact Estate Planning Counsel, or your friends at Nevada Legal Services, to put your Plan into action.

Nevada Legal Services (NLS) provides free legal services including Estate Planning to people who would not otherwise be able to obtain access to justice. Our Senior Law Project provides services to seniors over 60 across the State of Nevada, including Wills and Estate Planning, Consumer Matters, Housing Issues, Elder Rights Law, Government Benefits, Domestic Law. An intake to determine eligibility is required, either telephonically or online.

[1] Edward Young (1681-1765) “Night Thoughts”

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