If you have lost a loved one then you may need to settle the Estate of your loved one through a Probate matter. Probate occurs after someone has died and the main purpose is to transfer a deceased person’s estate to their heirs. Exactly how a specific case is handled will in large part be based on whether or not your loved one died with a legally enforceable Last Will and Testament (“Will”). Individuals who have left a Will have already designated a Personal Representative. The Personal Representative will be responsible for paying off creditors and distributing property and/or assets to the beneficiaries. If a personal representative was not designated in the Will then either a Probate Judge or a State District Court Judge will have to approve the designation of a Personal Representative.
The probate process begins after a Personal Representative is selected. The Personal Representative will be responsible for becoming educated about the probate laws in New Mexico and since the specific statutes, and deadlines are complicated, it would be wise to handle the probate with the professional guidance of an attorney. Depending on the size of the estate, whether or not a Will was left behind, the number of creditors, beneficiaries and the court, probate can take a number of months and even years. Probate typically works best when the decedent has left a Will.
When a person has not left a Will, intestate laws will determine who acts as the administrator of the Estate, how creditors will be paid and who is eligible for a portion of the estate. These types of cases can take longer time, especially if there is some wrangling and fighting over assets and the administration of the estate. Attempting to handle a probate case on one’s own is generally not a good idea. The Personal Representative who will legally act as the administrator of a Will should find an experienced probate attorney that is familiar with the probate law in New Mexico. The Estate and its potential beneficiaries are better served and the process will be completed much faster with the aid of experienced and knowledgeable counsel. Please do not hesitate to contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation to review your Probate matter.