New Mexico Probate
Probate is simply a legal process designed to ensure a decedent’s property and assets are distributed in accordance with his or her will, or in accordance with state statutes should there be no will in place. It is important to understand that probate cannot be avoided through the creation of a will. A will serves to simplify the probate process (saving time and money for your loved ones), set forth your final wishes, and reduce the possibility for litigation. Probate cannot be avoided unless you have created a living trust—a legal mechanism for transferring your property and assets according to your wishes upon death (see Types of Trusts for more information).
According to New Mexico probate law, the general steps of probate are as follows:
- Determine if there is a will. Different forms are used depending on whether a person died testate (with a will) or intestate (without a will).
- File proper forms with the probate court. A list of forms can be found here. An experienced New Mexico probate lawyer can help you determine the appropriate forms to file for your situation.
- Determine who is the personal representative (executor) named in the will. This person will be responsible for carrying out the directives set forth in the will. Personal representatives are entitled to reasonable compensation from the estate.
- Personal representative must send out a notice identifying their appointment and informing the public that probate has begun on the decedent’s estate. This enables people who may have a right to the decedent’s property to be informed of what’s going on.
- Personal representative must notify creditors that the estate is being probated. You are required to notify creditors that you are aware of. Keep in mind that you can shorten the time period that unknown creditors have to make claims on the decedent’s estate by publishing a notice in the newspaper.
- Personal representative must gather and inventory the assets of the estate. Careful record must be kept of the decedent’s property to ensure that it is distributed in accordance with the decedent’s will.
- Personal representative must determine the debts of the estate and pay them off.Valid debts must be determined at this
- Personal representative must distribute the remaining assets of the estate as set forth in the will.Probate court ensures
- File appropriate forms to close probate court proceedings.
Probate can be a simple process if no one contests the will and all steps are followed appropriately. Having a straightforward, legal will in place that is in line with New Mexico probate law can help ensure that your final wishes are carried out in an efficient, agreeable manner. When the validity of a will is brought into question or there is no will in place, probate can be a long process, filled with many battles that have the potential to disrupt family ties (see New Mexico Trust and Probate Litigation for more information).
Our experienced New Mexico probate lawyers can not only help craft a will that will hold up in probate court, but make sure your loved one’s final wishes are carried out in accordance with his or her will. Additionally, if you discover that your loved one died intestate or you would like to contest a will, our probate lawyers can help you through that difficult process.
Contact our qualified New Mexico probate lawyer in Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, Roswell or Santa Fe to fight for your loved one’s final wishes.