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.

For more information please visit:

Lawyer in the Lobby

The Nevada State Bar has recognized Chris MacKenzie for his work with the Lawyer in the Lobby pro bono program. Lawyer in the Lobby is a free service provided by Volunteer Attorneys for Rural Nevadans (VARN).

In addition to being a helpful, simple process for Nevadans, it is a benefit for the attorney as well. Attorneys who volunteer are able to broaden their knowledge of law that is outside of their regular practice. Foreclosures, small claims and family law are some of the questions that local citizens have sought sound advice from attorneys like Chris MacKenzie.

“It’s nice to just give answers and not go through the litigation process. “ Chris MacKenzie said. The simplicity of the program coupled with the immediate contact with an attorney is a draw for people to find a solution or a better understanding of their situation.

The amount of pro bono services in Nevada is encouraging to MacKenzie. He said, “It’s nice to have a lot of people that are committed and put together these programs.”

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.

To read the full Spotlight article in Nevada Lawyer magazine please visit:

Joel W. Locke becomes shareholder at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm

The Law Firm of Allison MacKenzie is pleased to announce that Joel W. Locke has become a shareholder in the firm as of January 1, 2013.

Joel, a 2006 graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law, came to the firm in 2007 after completing a one-year clerkship for the Honorable William A. Maddox, First Judicial District Court. His emphasis will continue to be in the areas of business law, estate planning, probate, litigation and family law.

Allison MacKenzie‘s legal expertise has protected business endeavors and positioned companies and individuals for success since 1978. Serving a variety of business profiles, governmental entities, nonprofits, public utilities, real estate ventures and private individuals, the firm is deeply committed to providing superior legal representation.

Fortune Magazine’s Top Ranked Law Firms in U.S.

Fortune Magazine 2013 Top Ranked Law FirmsAllison, MacKenzie, Pavlakis, Wright & Fagan, Ltd. was selected for Fortune magazine’s 2013 list of “Top Ranked Law Firms” in the United States. LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® was asked to research their comprehensive database of over 1.2 million lawyers and firms in over 160 countries and identify U.S. law firms of 10 or more attorneys, where at least one out of three of their lawyers achieved the AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating. This rating indicates the rated lawyer has been deemed by his or her peers to have demonstrated the highest level of ethical standards and legal ability.

Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings are driven by the confidential opinions of lawyers and members of the judiciary who provide reviews of lawyers about whom they have professional knowledge.

Allison MacKenzie Pavlakis Wright & Fagan AV Preeminent Peer Review Ratings

A special section featuring the 2013 U.S. Top Ranked Law Firms appeared in Fortune’s “2013 Investors Guide” (published December 24, 2012), as well as the January 2013 editions of The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel. It also appears on LAW.COM and

Fortune Top Ranked Law Firms – West