Special Administrators

The appointment of a special administrator is a special, temporary situation where a person is appointed to do the limited tasks of checking into a decedent's assets, accounting the assets, marshaling the assets, protecting the assets, and/or acting as a real party in interest in lawsuits involving the estate. The appointment of a special administrator does not give the special administrator the right to disburse or keep any assets. Common situations where a special administrator is required are when: (1) no one knows what the estate consists of or no one knows the value of the estate; (2) someone needs to be appointed right away to protect the assets of the estate; and (3) when there is a lawsuit pending involving the decedent and someone needs to step in and defend or participate in that lawsuit. Special administrators are governed by Nevada Revised Statutes Title 12, Chapter 140.

Read below for some frequently asked questions and answers, as well as the steps to becoming appointed special administrator.

Do I need to be appointed special administrator?

You might be looking into special administration because a bank has told you to be appointed. Perhaps the bank refused to tell you the value of the decedent's bank account, and the bank representative tells you to be appointed as special administrator so that information can be turned over to you. While it is true that being appointed special administrator will get you that information, there might be an easier way of getting it. Digging into the decedent's mail might get you a bank statement or information into an online account, where you can find out the value of the account. Remember that being appointed special administrator does not authorize the money in that bank account to be turned over to you or anyone else. It only gives the special administrator the right to look into and investigate the assets. Once you know the value of the bank account, you will have to determine how to administer the money based on the estate's value. Click Administration of Estates to read more.

What are the duties and liabilities of a special administrator?

As special administrator, you will have special powers and duties, and you will have immunity from certain claims. The special administrator has to collect and preserve all the money of the estate and manage the estate so it does not lose value. This includes managing any income to the estate (e.g., rents received on the property in the estate) and taking care of the property (e.g., making sure the property is in good condition and does not turn into waste).

The special administrator can begin, maintain, or defend any court actions and be the person who is involved in lawsuits on behalf of the estate. The special administrator can also sell certain "perishable" items from the estate (property that will lose value if it is not disposed of right away), and ask the court to lease or mortgage real property in the estate.

Special administrators are not liable to any creditors of the estate, and even if the special administrator takes part in litigation on behalf of the estate, the special administrator is not liable for any claims against the decedent, except for claims of wrongful death, personal injury, or property damage if the estate only contains a policy of liability insurance and nothing else.

(NRS 140.040.)

Who should petition to be appointed as special administrator?

The order of priority for appointment as administrator is as follows (NRS 139.040):

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Adult children
  3. Father or mother
  4. Brother or sister
  5. Grandchildren
  6. Anyone entitled to share in the estate
  7. Public administrator
  8. Creditors
  9. Any kindred within 4th degree of consanguinity (aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, first cousins)
  10. Any person legally qualified

This does not mean that if you are of lower priority, you cannot be appointed. It means that if someone of higher priority than you also petitions, the court might favor that person to be appointed if they are of higher priority than you.

How do I get appointed as special administrator?

In order to be appointed special administrator, follow these 11 steps:

Step 1: Decide if this is the right application for you.
Step 2: Decide if you are eligible to serve as special administrator.
Step 3: Collect information.
Step 4: Fill out the packet.
Step 5: Gather any nominations.
Step 6: Fill out affidavit.
Step 7: Attach documents to your petition.
Step 8: File the packet.
Step 9: Check status of your case.
Step 10: Get order.
Step 11: Get Letters of Administration signed by the clerk.

Each of these eleven steps are discussed in more detail below.

Step 1: Decide if this is the right application for you.

Read and answer the following questions.

  1. Do you understand that becoming special administrator does not entitle you to any assets or give you the authority to disburse the assets? (WARNING: Sometimes you will get information from a bank or other agency that asks for Letters of Administration. This is different from this petition for special administration. Also, beware, because terminology gets mixed up from different states. So an agency from another state might tell you that this is what you need, but Nevada law is different.)
  2. Do you really not know the value of the decedent's estate? (Make sure you've done your own research. Real property values can be found online; car values can be found online; bank account values can be found by checking the decedent's mail.)

If you answered "no" to either or both questions, you should review Administration of Estates to see if there is another process that might work for you. However, if your answer was "yes" to both questions, this might be the right application for you, and you can proceed to the next step. 

Step 2: Decide if you are eligible to serve as special administrator.

In order to be appointed as special administrator, you must:

  1. Be a resident of Nevada,
  2. Be over the age of 18, and
  3. Never have been convicted of a felony. (If you do have a felony on your record, you can still petition to become special administrator, but it will be up to the judge to decide if you can still be appointed. Felonies related to moral turpitude, theft, and financial-related crimes will bar appointment. For drug-related felonies and other felonies, it will be up to the judge to decide, based on the time that has passed since the crime and the severity of the crime.)

(NRS 139.010.)

If you are eligible to be special administrator, move on to Step 3.

Step 3: Collect information.

Collect the names, ages, and addresses of any persons who have equal or higher priority than you to be appointed special administrator. Nevada law (NRS 139.040) lists the order of priority of persons who are entitled to petition to be special administrator as follows:

The order of priority for appointment as administrator is as follows (NRS 139.040):

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Adult Children
  3. Father or mother
  4. Brother or sister
  5. Grandchildren
  6. Anyone entitled to share in the estate
  7. Public administrator
  8. Creditors
  9. Any kindred within 4th degree of consanguinity (aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, first cousins)
  10. Any person legally qualified

Find out where you are in the list above, then gather the names, ages, and addresses of all the people who are equal or higher than you on the list. This will include, of course, a surviving spouse, and any children of the decedent, amongst all others.

Step 4: Fill out the packet.

A packet for the Petition for Special Letters of Administration is available free of charge at the Civil Law Self-Help Center and on the probate webpage. You can also download a Petition for Special Letters of Administration on your computer by clicking one of the listed formats underneath the form's title below. This packet also contains the nomination form described in Step 5. (You will not fill out the nomination form. See Step 5 for more information.)

PETITION FOR SPECIAL LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION

Word fillable PDF nonfillable

You can also download a form completion guide to show you how to fill out the form by clicking on the link below:

GUIDE

For information about how to fill out and file court forms, read Basics of Court Forms and Filings.

Complete the Petition for Special Letters of Administration carefully, providing all requested information in all blanks. You, the person completing the packet, are the petitioner. Remember, you will have to list a good reason as to why you need to be appointed as special administrator, and you will explain to the judge why you do not know about the decedent's assets. Do not forget to sign the petition and verification.

Step 5: Gather any nominations.

Sometimes the family wants a specific person to serve as special administrator. For example, when there are siblings who are arguing over the estate, there might be a cousin who all the siblings trust to serve as administrator. If there are family members who wish to nominate you as special administrator, they can fill out a nomination form.

Refer back to your list of family members that you compiled in Step 3. Each person on that list who wants to nominate you as special administrator should fill out the nomination form. Remember, you do not fill out this form; the family members nominating you do. You can pick up a nomination form at the Civil Law Self-Help Center or download it on your computer by clicking one of the listed formats in Step 4--the packets include the nomination forms. You might have to print out more than one nomination form depending on how many family members are nominating you.

Step 6: Fill out affidavit.

Refer back to your list of family members that you compiled in Step 3. Go through that list and note which family members on that list did not fill out a nomination in Step 5. An explanation for each of those family members needs to be provided in an affidavit. You can download an affidavit on your computer by clicking a link underneath the form's title below. Beside it is a form completion guide.

AFFIDAVIT

PDF fillable PDF nonfillable GUIDE

You will need to explain what efforts you have used to contact the family members, and why they cannot be found. If there are no heirs or family that you know of, you will also have to complete the affidavit explaining your relationship to the decedent, and why you do not know of any heirs (e.g., "I lived with the decedent for 15 years, and he never mentioned a wife or kids. I know his parents and siblings are all deceased.") Once you have completed the affidavit, get it notarized by a notary public.

Step 7: Attach documents to your petition.

Gather the following documents and attach them to the back of your petition:

  1. A copy of your picture ID.
  2. A copy of the will, if there was one.
  3. A copy of the decedent's death certificate.
  4. The nomination(s), if you have them.
  5. An affidavit filled out by you explaining why the people of equal or higher priority than you have not filled out a nomination form, if there are such people.

Step 8: File the packet.

After you complete the petition and order and the packet is ready, submit everything with the Eighth Judicial District Court. The clerk's office where you can submit the packet is on the 3rd floor with the Regional Justice Center at 200 Lewis Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89155.

There is no fee to file initially. However, if the probate progresses, and the clerk's office discovers that the estate was valued between $25,000.01 and $299,999.99 and you file another petition to distribute the assets, the clerk's office will require a filing fee. The fees are: $0 if the estate is valued at less than $2,500.00; $185.50 if the estate is between $2,500.01 and $20,000.00; $284.50 if the estate is between $20,000.01 and $200,000.00; and $537.50 if the estate is valued at $200,000.01 or more.

Step 9: Check status of your case.

After filing your petition, you should continuously check the court docket to see if anyone has filed an objection. You can go to the Eighth Judicial District Court website and search under "Family Records" by the decedent's name to see if anyone has filed an objection. If an objection gets filed, the court might set the matter for hearing. Note that hearing date and attend the hearing. However, if there are no objections, generally the court will not set the matter for hearing.

You should also continuously check the probate court's matter listing or "Pickup List" to see if the court has granted your petition. Click here for the probate webpage and click on the link for "The District Court Probate Pickup List." Search for the decedent's name under the column "Name of the Estate" then follow it to the "Status" column. If your petition has been granted, you will see the list will reflect "OK," and that means the judge has signed off on the order.

Step 10: Get order.

Once the judge has signed off on the order, you can wait for the order to be mailed to you. If there are no objections filed to your petition, you can expect to receive the order in the mail about 3 to 4 weeks after filing your petition. You will receive a plain order as well as a certified copy of the order in the mail. You can also pick up a certified copy of the order at the clerk's office on the 3rd floor where you filed. Some institutions might request to see a certified copy of the order, so make sure you have one.

Step 11: Get Letters of Administration signed by the clerk.

Once you have the order, fill out the remaining blanks on the Letters of Special Administration, and take it to the clerk's office on the 3rd floor. The clerk will witness you taking the oath and sign off on the Letters, then return it to you. You can use these Letters of Special Administration to present to any entities who require this before sharing any information about the estate.