How Probate Laws Work in New Mexico

If you’ve recently lost a loved one, you may be facing the challenge of figuring out what to do with their property. While grieving takes time, other responsibilities cannot be avoided. The person’s estate must be taken care of in a timely manner.

The process for dealing with an estate of a deceased person is called probate. Probate is a legal method which involves the courts. If you’re involved in the estate of the decedent, you should understand some basic information about what happens.

Is Probate Required in New Mexico?

Probate is usually necessary for estates in New Mexico. It’s a required process unless a few strict requirements are met. New Mexico statutes dictate how it is to be handled.

How Do You Avoid Probate in New Mexico?

While probate is usually required by law, there are ways in which you can avoid having an estate go through probate. The best way to accomplish this goal is to place the estate in a revocable living trust with someone named as a beneficiary of the estate to receive it when the person dies.

Some assets may not need to go through probate if they are owned jointly. The surviving owner would automatically become the sole owner when the other person dies. Assets with named beneficiaries or those that are payable on death to someone wouldn’t have to be listed as part of probate. Examples include checking and savings accounts in banks, life insurance policies, and retirement account funds.

Can an Executor of an Estate in New Mexico be Compensated?

An executor of an estate may be compensated for their time and expenses. This topic is addressed in the New Mexico Statutes 45, Article 3, Section 719.

How Much Does an Executor in New Mexico Get Paid?

The New Mexico Statutes doesn’t provide strict guidelines for payment of the executor. It only states that the personal representative is allowed to receive reasonable compensation. If the will provides for an amount, that total would take precedence. However, the executor may renounce the amount and ask for reasonable compensation. Section 721 also states that the court is allowed to review the amount of compensation to determine if it is excessive. The executor may be required to pay back any amount considered to be excessive payment.

How Long Does Probate in New Mexico Take?

The timeline for probate can vary widely, but it usually lasts at least a year. Creditors have up to a year to submit a claim against the estate. However, complications can arise that would lengthen the time it takes for probate to be completed and the heirs to receive their inheritance.

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in New Mexico?

Most estates will go through probate in New Mexico. However, it is possible to avoid it if the estate is in a trust or all assets automatically pass onto someone else. If an estate is valued at less than $50,000, an affidavit may be used to access the assets or have them transferred to the heirs. A copy of the death certificate will also need to be presented.

You may also use a simplified probate procedure if the value of the estate is less than the allowance for family as well as funeral expenses and other costs. While the estate must still go through the court, the executor usually doesn’t have as many requirements to follow.

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in New Mexico?

A will must be filed with the county court in New Mexico where the person resided before their death. Even if there is no estate or the assets don’t need to go through probate, the will must be recorded. The court may need to validate the will or settle disputes contesting the will.

Settling an Estate in New Mexico

When it comes to settling an estate in New Mexico, the process is similar to all other states. Probate has a general process to go through. However, the timelines may differ and other details, such as what documents are necessary, may be unique to the state. It’s helpful to know the basic steps involved in handling an estate in New Mexico.

This is a simplified list of the steps involved, but each one can take an indefinite amount of time, depending on the complexity of the estate.

How Long Do You Have to File Probate After a Death in New Mexico?

In most cases, New Mexico statutes require that probate be filed within three years of the death of the person. However, no one can be appointed as executor or probate be formally opened for the first 120 hours after the death.

Probate Court in New Mexico

Probate is handled by the district courts in New Mexico. There are judicial district courts for the state. The one exception is Bernalillo County, which has its own probate court. You can find a map which divides the courts as well as location and information about each court on the New Mexico Courts website: NM Courts.

Probate Code in New Mexico

New Mexico is one of the few states to utilize the Uniform Probate Code. It is found in Chapter 45 of the New Mexico Statutes under Article 3. The statutes governing probate can be found on the New Mexico Compilation Commission website: Home –