Nevada’s Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and Living Will Declaration

By Dawn Ellerbrock, Allison MacKenzie, Ltd.

The importance of a health care power of attorney form and a living will declaration as part of your overall estate plan cannot be overemphasized.

A power of attorney form for health care decisions allows you to name someone to act on your behalf for the purpose of making medical decisions if you are unable to make informed decisions for yourself.  The Nevada Legislature has enacted a statutory form entitled “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions” at NRS 162A.860.  Nevada’s Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions authorizes the named attorney-in-fact to consent to medical procedures on your behalf if you are unable to give informed consent.  Nevada’s Durable Power of Attorney for Health Decisions, however, does not authorize the named attorney-in-fact to consent to such things as convulsive treatment, psychosurgery, or your commitment or placement in a facility for treatment of mental illness.  A court order is needed for these types of medical decisions.

With respect to decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment, Nevada’s Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions sets forth five different statements of desire.  If you agree with the statements of desire, then you would initial the statement.  The five statements are as follows:

  1. I desire that my life be prolonged to the greatest extent possible, without regard to my condition, the chances I have for recovery or long-term survival, or the cost of the procedures.
  2. If I am in a coma which my doctors have reasonably concluded is irreversible, I desire that life-sustaining or prolonging treatments not be used. (Also should utilize provisions of NRS 449.535 to 449.690, inclusive, if this subparagraph is initialed.)
  3. If I have an incurable or terminal condition or illness and no reasonable hope of long-term recovery or survival, I desire that life-sustaining or prolonging treatments not be used. (Also should utilize provisions of NRS 449.535 to 449.690, inclusive, if this subparagraph is initialed.)
  4. Withholding or withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration may result in death by starvation or dehydration. I want to receive or continue receiving artificial nutrition and hydration by way of the gastrointestinal tract after all other treatment is withheld.
  5. I do not desire treatment to be provided and/or continued if the burdens of the treatment outweigh the expected benefits. My agent is to consider the relief of suffering, the preservation or restoration of functioning, and the quality as well as the extent of the possible extension of my life.

Admittedly, the language used in the foregoing statements is confusing.  Unfortunately, Nevada law mandates that this language be used.  It is advisable that you review the statements of desire with your doctor or attorney if you should have any questions.

Additionally, if you agree with the items 2 and 3 of the statements of desire regarding end-of-life decisions, Nevada law encourages the use of a Living Will Declaration.

A Living Will Declaration goes with the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions.  If the persons you have named as your attorneys-in-fact are unable or unwilling to make end-of-life decisions on your behalf, the Living Will Declaration authorizes your attending physician to make such decisions for you.

If you have any questions or are interested in speaking with me about a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and Living Will Declaration, please feel free to E-mail me at

Charles P. Cockerill joins Allison MacKenzie

Charlie Cockerill-resized copyCharles P. Cockerill joined Allison MacKenzie Law Firm on November 1st, 2014. With over 20 years of practice exclusively in the area of Labor and Employment Law, Charlie brings a wealth of knowledge and proficiency representing employers including cities, counties, school districts, hospitals, public communications utilities, and others. Further, Charlie is an arbitrator for the Nevada District Court Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program and a State of Nevada Hearings Officer in matters involving employee discipline and discharge. In his free time, Charlie enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, snowboarding and golfing. Charlie is taking the lead in expanding the firm’s practice in Labor and Employment Law for both the public and private sector employers including: collective bargaining, Federal mediation, grievance hearings, arbitration and appeals, wrongful termination, Americans with Disabilities Act, sexual harassment, Family and Medical Leave Act, non-competitive agreements, wage claims and fair labor standards.

Importance of Written Rental Agreements for both Landlords and Tenants

By Mike Pavlakis, Allison MacKenzie, Ltd.

The relationship between landlord and tenant is an important one, and should be documented by a written rental agreement signed by both of the parties.

The rental agreement should identify the premises (the apartment, unit, house, or other property) which is the subject of the rental agreement, and it should include at least the following:

  1. The commencement date that the rental agreement begins; the date that the tenant can take occupancy of the premises, and the date the rental agreement ends;
  2. The amount of the monthly rent; the date the rent is due, and the place it is to be paid; typically, rents are paid in advance;
  3. The amount of any late charge if the rent is not paid when due;
  4. The amount of any security deposit; when it is to be paid, and whether the security deposit is refundable at the end of the term of the rental agreement, with or without interest;
  5. The utilities and services, if any, provided by the landlord, and the utilities for which the tenant is responsible; in residential tenancies, the landlord typically provides water and sewer service and perhaps trash removal and the tenant is responsible for electricity, heat, phone, internet service;
  6. The names of the tenants who will occupy the unit and who are responsible for the rent; and if any pets are allowed, the number and type of pet;
  7. The name, address, and contact information of the landlord in case of emergencies;
  8. The responsibility for the payment of taxes and insurance;
  9. The process for renewal of the rental agreement.

In addition, it is important for the parties to conduct a “walk through” of the unit prior to the tenant taking occupancy.  Any deficiencies, such as carpet burns, holes in walls, broken windows, window coverings, scratched fixtures and appliances, and any work to be done by the landlord should be noted.  Ideally, photographs of the condition of the unit will be taken.  These should be dated and if necessary compared to the results of a “walk through” inspection of the unit upon termination of the rental agreement.

Standard forms of rental agreements are available in office supply stores and online.  If you need help in preparing or reviewing your rental agreement, please call one of our attorneys.  A well documented landlord tenant relationship will help insure a mutually satisfactory relationship and help avoid problems upon termination of the term of the agreement.

If you have any questions or are interested in speaking with me about written rental agreements, please feel free to E-mail me at

Thoran Towler becomes associate at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm

Thoran_Towler_Headshot 175 175Thoran Towler has become an associate of the firm as of January 20, 2015.

Prior to joining Allison MacKenzie, Thoran was the State of Nevada Labor Commissioner appointed by the Director of the Department Business and Industry in 2011. Thoran brings an expertise in the areas of wage and hour, labor and employment law, union issues, prevailing wage and public works. Additionally, Thoran has a proven track record of engaging with the Nevada business community, including conducting numerous trainings on wage and hour compliance with small business groups.

Thoran Towler was admitted to practice law in the State of Nevada in 2006 after obtaining his law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law. Thoran has a Bachelor of Science in Technology from Walla Walla College.

What Is Probate?

By Joel W. Locke, Allison MacKenzie, Ltd.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines “Probate” as the judicial procedure by which a testamentary document is established to be a valid will; the proving of a will to the satisfaction of the court.

If a decedent dies without a will, that person is said to have died intestate. When a person dies intestate and leaves assets subject to administration, those assets will be subject to court administration and will be distributed pursuant to the laws of intestate succession outlined in NRS Chapter 134. The probate and intestate administration process is nearly identical and depending on the size of the estate, will have different time-lines and requirements.

There are four (4) levels of probate in Nevada that are categorized by the size of the estate and the type of assets contained in the estate: $1-$20,000; $20,001-$100,000; $100,001-$200,000; and $200,001 and above.

If a decedent leaves no real property and their personal property subject to probate does not exceed $20,000, no formal probate is necessary and the estate can be distributed pursuant to an Affidavit showing the right to the personal property.

The next level of probate is called a “Set-Aside” and applies to estates that do not exceed $100,000. This is an informal type of probate where no Personal Representative is appointed, and instead, the Court will set-aside the decedent’s assets to the appropriate beneficiaries by issuing an order. If the decedent leaves minor children or a surviving spouse, the entire estate will be set aside to them, without paying creditors of the decedent. If there are no minor children or surviving spouse, the creditors will be paid a pro-rata share of any claims and the rest of the estate will be distributed to the beneficiaries.

The next type of probate is called a “Summary Administration” and applies when the decedent’s estate does not exceed $200,000. This is a more formal probate and a Personal Representative is appointed and creditors are notified and have sixty (60) days to file a claim against the estate, or the claim is barred. The Personal Representative is required to file an inventory of the estate, and after the notice to creditors time period has expired, is required to file an account of the estate and request distribution pursuant to the will, or intestate succession.

The final form of probate is known as a “Full Administration.” The same requirements for the Summary Administration must be met, except that the notice to creditors is a ninety (90) day period.

Probate is a time consuming and costly process. A full administration usually takes at least nine (9) months, but often takes longer than a year. Court fees, publication fees, and attorney fees for a full administration often exceed $10,000, and based upon the value of the estate, can be much, much more. There are many ways to avoid probate, but it requires careful planning based upon each individual’s assets and desires.

If you have any questions or are interested in speaking with me about creating an estate plan that reflects your desires, please feel free to E-mail me at and I will set up a consultation with you.

Justin Townsend

Justin Townsend Web copy

Attorney Profile

Justin Townsend

Justin Townsend joined the team of Allison • MacKenzie in 2013.  Mr. Townsend’s areas of practice include real estate, natural resources and business law.

Find out more about Justin and the rest of our team.

Attorneys Recognized for Outstanding Volunteer Service

Volunteers for Rural Nevadans (VARN) have recognized Chris MacKenzie and Ryan Russell for outstanding service to the 2013 Lawyer in the Lobby Project. Lawyer in the Lobby is a program set up by VARN that allows citizens to sit down with an attorney for a short amount of time and have questions answered at no charge to them.   

Chris MacKenzie has been in practice in Nevada since 1993.  He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nevada Reno and his Juris Doctor from the University of Idaho

Ryan Russell began practicing in Nevada in 2003.  He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nevada Reno and his Juris Doctor from the University of Nevada, William Boyd School of Law.

Allison MacKenzie Attorneys Named 2013 Legal Elite Recipients

We are pleased to announce that three Allison MacKenzie attorneys were named to the Nevada Business Magazine’s 2013 Legal Elite. Legal Elite is an annual list that highlights the top attorneys in Nevada.

Congratulations to Mike Pavlakis, Chris MacKenzie and Ryan Russell for their commitment to superior legal representation. They are part of the top 3% of attorneys in Nevada.

Legal Elites are selected by votes from their peers in the legal community. Each attorney who qualifies within the strict guidelines is given a score for the type of vote that they receive. A vote from their own firm only counts for one point. A vote received from outside the firm counts for three points. Top scorers in each category are then verified a second time for eligibility.

Again, Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is recognized for its most qualified attorneys in Carson City and Northern Nevada.

Justin Townsend becomes associate at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm

Justin Townsend has become an associate of the firm as of December 18, 2013.

 Justin received his undergraduate degree in 2006 from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. In 2010, he graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. While attending law school, he served as the Managing Editor of Business for International Law and Management Review. Justin serves clients’ needs in the areas of natural resources, real estate, and business law.

Ryan Russell Appointed to Board of Governors

The Board of Governors is comprised of 15  members representing the four state districts defined in Supreme Court Rule 81. Elections for the board are held annually and governors are selected by the members of their districts to serve two-year terms. Also serving on the board is the immediate past president and two ex-officio members representing the William S. Boyd School of Law and the Board of Bar Examiners.

Together, the Board of Governors carry out the state bar’s administrative functions, set policies and procedures, affect rule changes, take legislative positions relative to the administration of justice and oversee the bar’s fiduciary responsibilities. Members are encouraged to contact their district representatives with concerns pertaining to the profession.

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