The probate process, regardless of where you live, can be a stressful and challenging process. Nobody wants to deal with the death of a loved one, but it is inevitable. The stress can mount if you have been appointed as a representative or executor because you want to make sure you are performing your duties properly.
If you have lost a loved one in Albuquerque or the surrounding areas of Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, or Valencia County, New Mexico, you may wonder how the probate process works. We understand wanting to know how everything works because it will make it run much more smoothly. At Bischoff & Bischoff Law, P.A., we believe in honesty and good customer service. We want to inform you about the probate process so that you know what to expect.
When someone dies, they leave behind an estate that must be distributed to the proper people. In New Mexico, similar to other states, probate is the process by which the estate is divided under the supervision of the court system.
Most estates must go through probate, but if the total value of the estate falls beneath $50,000, then it is considered a small estate. In New Mexico, small estate probate is a straightforward process. An affidavit must be created to release the assets of the deceased’s estate.
However, if the estate is larger than $50,000, has no will, then the estate will pass through probate.
It is important to know what assets will pass through probate in New Mexico. Typically, any property that was in the name of the deceased — such as a house, a car, or land — must go through probate administration. Additionally, if the property in question is considered to be under “tenants in common,” it must also pass through probate. Any personal possessions — such as jewelry and other valuable belongings — must also pass through probate.
In New Mexico, there are three types of probate, including:
It is important to understand each type. Each one operates differently. For example, supervised probate is when the court oversees the entire process. The court oversees the proceedings, which includes the distribution of all the assets.
Similarly, unsupervised probate is when a judge is included as part of the process. The judge is included to help settle disputes that may arise between the executor/administrator and the beneficiaries of the estate.
The most common form of probate in New Mexico is informal probate. Informal probate is when there are predicted to be no disputes because everyone involved in the process is on good terms. The executor will send out “letters of testamentary” and distribute the estate without the need for the court to oversee it.
The probate administration process includes the appointment of an executor. This role can be designated in the decedent’s will or appointed by the court.
The executor or administrator has several duties. They must make sure that the estate is properly distributed to the proper beneficiaries. They must also gather all of the assets of the decedent’s estate that need to be distributed.
Some of the other duties that are handled by the executor include:
Valuing the assets of the estate
Pay outstanding bills on behalf of the estate
Pay the taxes of the estate
It is important to remember, as the Bernalillo County court states, that “after a probate has been filed, it needs to be kept open until all creditors receive notice, claims are resolved, taxes are paid, and estate assets are distributed. Once the probate is closed, the personal representative no longer has authority to act on behalf of the estate.”
Therefore, once the probate has closed, the executor or administrator’s duties are fulfilled.
When you are dealing with probate in New Mexico, it is important to have someone who can help guide you through the process. We understand the timeliness and responsiveness our clients desire.
A probate attorney can help guide you through the probate process so that you understand everything that needs to be done. At Bischoff & Bischoff Law, P.A., we serve people residing in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, and Valencia County, including Los Lunas and Belen, New Mexico. Call us to see how we can help you navigate the probate process.