Albuquerque Formal Probate Attorneys
Formal probate is the legal process of distributing a person’s assets after they die. The court system oversees probate to make sure that all debts are paid and that assets are distributed according to the letter of the law. If you have been named in a will, there are some things you need to do in order to get started with the formal probate process.
Reach out to New Mexico Financial & Family Law for assistance with the probate process and answers to any questions you might have. Call (505) 886-9606 or contact us online to schedule a no-obligation consultation appointment and case review.
Filing for Formal Probate in Albuquerque
Formal probate proceedings for estates of individuals who resided in Albuquerque may be conducted at the Bernalillo County Probate Court offices. However, if the decedent passed more than three years ago or passed without a will (intestate), then the probate case may need to be conducted through the Second Judicial District of New Mexico court system. The district court may also be more appropriate for complex cases, such as when it is unclear if creditors/objectors have a valid claim or where the petitioner for the personal representative of the estate may lack standing.
It may be best to refer to an attorney for advice on where and how to file for probate when there are lingering questions. The procedures you undergo will affect your options when trying to navigate toward a specific outcome, so consider the matter carefully.
Am I Required to File for Formal Probate?
Formal probate is required in cases where the estate’s estimated value exceeds $50,000 and/or when there are claims or disputing petitions that must be resolved through a formal court proceeding.
One way to avoid formal probate is to ensure that your loved one’s estate is well managed before their death. Real property assets, like homes, can be given transfer-upon-death deeds. Bank accounts, securities, and other such holdings can similarly be designated to transfer upon death. To ensure the value of the estate remains below the $50,000 threshold, the individual planning their estate can place the majority of their assets in a living trust. A living trust can dictate conditions and be managed through rules similar to a will, but it also applies a fiduciary responsibility to the trustee while helping the estate avoid having to undergo formal probate.
What Do I Do If Someone Is Contesting the Will or Has a Petition to Dispute?
Many conflicts that arise after the death of a loved one relate to feelings of not getting one’s due. In other words, people who file to contest the will or dispute its terms most often want something from the estate — not just the satisfaction of having a judge rule in their favor.
In truth, judges may attempt to avoid formal rulings on such matters when it can be avoided. It is advised by legal professionals and encouraged by the court system to attempt to resolve such matters outside of court. Options can include providing a settlement or offering to “buy out” a fair equivalent value of the assets desired.
In any case, the important thing is to consider the separate duties of the personal representative of the applicable estate. The representative has a responsibility to the estate itself to resolve any such claims expeditiously while preserving the entire value of the estate to the extent possible. In other words, address such matters from a professional rather than a personal angle.
An Albuquerque formal probate attorney can help you address such issues as they arise for your case. Since courts are not legally allowed to offer advice, you will be made aware of the legal options available, the pros/cons of each, and which strategies may best help you seek your best outcome.
What Can I Do If Creditor Claims or Other Costs Are Eating Into Assets Supposed to Go to Heirs?
There is an order of priority for distributing assets from any estate that undergoes probate. First, the family allowance and personal property allowances must be paid to the appropriate surviving family member (if any). Second, the estate’s own reasonable administration costs must be paid, including the cost of probating the will. Third, any outstanding creditor claims and disputes must be resolved.
Settling all of these matters may mean that assets described in the will are not available as originally intended by the testator (the deceased author of the will). In these cases, you may need to liquidate parts of the estate in order to settle all matters. State law permits you to invalidate certain parts of the will, providing that the losses to the estate are made equitable and fair to all devisees (inheritors) and heirs.
Managing an estate with limited assets is almost always going to result in someone being upset. The duty of the personal representative is to manage the estate in good faith and to the best of their ability while resolving outstanding payments in the order of priority. You will have to consult with an experienced probate attorney in Albuquerque to learn about your specific options and what strategies may be best given your situation.
The Process for Formal Probate in Albuquerque
Probate in Albuquerque follows a set of established guidelines.
A certified petition for probate must be filed with the clerk of District Court, and the petition should include an up-to-date copy of the decedent’s will and all accompanying documents. The court clerk then appoints a personal representative responsible for determining creditors and distributing assets to the estate’s beneficiaries.
Additionally, formal legal notices should be issued to notify interested parties about the probate proceedings. After all paperwork has been reviewed, taxes filed, and appraisals completed, the distribution of assets can commence.
It is recommended that you enlist an attorney who can navigate the complexities of probate law on your behalf if you feel overwhelmed by the process.
First, you must file a petition with the court and pay the required fees.
Filing a petition with the court is the first step in any legal matter. It is important to ensure that all forms have been properly completed and fees have been satisfactorily remitted before filing; as failure to do so may negatively impact your case.
We recommend consulting a lawyer who can provide assistance in completing the necessary paperwork and executing other related tasks until final disposition.
Once the petition has been filed, you will need to provide notice to all interested parties.
After filing your petition, the next step is serving notice to all involved parties. To ensure the validity of the process, it is important to provide proper and timely notice to anyone who may be affected by the petition.
Notices must list the name of court and case number, inform parties of the filing of the petition and when they can appear at a hearing if necessary. Depending on specific requirements, you may also need to include details about how much time individuals have to respond or register an objection. Following these steps correctly will help protect your interests as well as the interests of the estate.
After notice has been provided, you will need to hold a hearing where interested parties can object to the probate proceedings.
Once the proper notice has been served, it is important to host an informal hearing where all interested parties can be heard. This allows these individuals to voice their concerns and objections to the probate proceeding in order to ensure that the process is fair and transparent. This is a critical step in the overall process and gives those with a legitimate stake in the proceedings a chance to be heard.
If there are no objections, the court will issue an order approving the probate and appointing the executor of the estate.
If no issues arise in the form of will validity challenges or other contesting claims, the court will likely issue its approval quickly so that the executor can begin taking the necessary steps toward settling the estate.
The executor will then be responsible for distributing the assets of the estate according to the terms of the will or intestacy laws of New Mexico.
Being an executor (or personal representative as designated in New Mexico) involves a great responsibility to ensure that the deceased’s wishes are carried out in accordance with New Mexico’s intestacy laws. This includes making sure that any outstanding debts are resolved and that the remaining assets left in the estate are given to the rightful beneficiaries.
Executors must follow strict regulations regarding distribution and should pay special attention to small details in order to ensure compliance with these requirements. It is essential for an executor to maintain accurate record-keeping and provide evidence of their responsible dispersal actions, both of which could have a significant impact on future litigations against them.
Get Assistance From Experienced Albuquerque Probate Attorneys
If you need assistance with formal probate in Albuquerque, the team at New Mexico Financial & Family Law has decades of experience to lend. We have helped hundreds of families and estate representatives complete the probate process and provide closure to the life of someone who was deeply loved.
To schedule a no-risk consultation with one of our probate lawyers in Albuquerque, please call (505) 886-9606 or contact us online today.