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Albuquerque Informal Probate Attorneys

Informal probate is a simplified process of executing a will, managing estate claims, and distributing properties to beneficiaries in accordance with the decedent’s wishes. When informal probate is used, the whole process of managing an estate after the owner’s death is simplified. It is also expedited, allowing the property to be distributed in a quicker time and at a lower cost.

The majority of probate cases in New Mexico will be conducted through informal probate. Estates are eligible for probate when all assets held within it amount to less than $50,000. Keep in mind that assets in transfer upon death accounts, jointly owned property and property held in trust will not be added to the estate’s value. Thus, with careful estate planning, a person planning for the end of their life can help their family avoid the more complex probate procedure.

Informal probate is also only available when there are no disputes or contesting claims.

At New Mexico Financial & Family Law, we listen carefully to your case and devise a sound plan of action to help you maneuver through probate as swiftly and cost-effectively as possible. At every turn, we seek to protect your interests and minimize conflicts to ensure probate commences smoothly.

For more information on probate and how to simplify it, reach out to us to speak to informal probate lawyers near you. We can provide you with a no-obligation consultation when you call us at (505) 886-9606 or contact us online.

Filing for Informal Probate in Albuquerque

Individuals can file for probate in Bernalillo County when their deceased loved one resided in the county. If the loved one resided outside of the state of New Mexico, but owned property in Bernalillo County, then their expected personal representative will be able to file probate through the Bernalillo County Probate Court.

Cases filed more than three years after the death of the decedent or where the decedent died intestate (without a will) must be instead filed through the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico.

Bernalillo County Probate Court Contact Information

Address:

One Civic Plaza NW, 6th floor
Albuquerque, NM
87102  ​

Telephone: (505) 468-1229

​Fax: (505) 468-1298    

Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday

​(including during the noon – 1 p.m. lunch hour)

Email: probate@bernco.gov

Second Judicial District Court Contact Information

Second Judicial District Court – Downtown Courthouse Location

Physical Address: 

400 Lomas Blvd NW

Albuquerque, NM 87102

Phone: 505-841-8400

Mailing Address:

Civil Division, P.O. Box 488

Albuquerque, NM  87103  

Telephone: (505) 841-8400

Fax: (505) 841-7495   

When Is Informal Probate Allowed in Albuquerque?

“Informal” probate is considered the standard procedure in Albuquerque probate cases.

The informal probate procedure is allowed under the following circumstances:

  • There are no outstanding property, heir, or creditor disputes
  • The total good faith estimated value of the estate is less than $50,000
  • There are no outstanding taxes that could levy the estate
  • There is no need to obtain medical records or other protected records
  • There is no need for a title transfer for a piece of real property, a bank account, etc.

Without these factors, probate becomes merely an administrative affair. Someone petitions to be the personal representative of the estate, and then sends notice to all the devisees, heirs, and individuals who have filed a demand for notice. A full accounting of the estate is conducted and made available upon request. Creditors may be notified and given the option to petition the estate to resolve outstanding debts. First, the Family Allowance and Personal Property Allowances are paid, as are administration costs. Then, any creditors or other outstanding estate claims are resolved.

Once this process is completed, the probating of the will is considered complete, and the probate case is closed. At this point, the personal representative of the estate may begin distributing assets according to the instructions of the decedent’s will.

Is Informal Probate in Albuquerque Right for Me?

If there is a clearly worded will and a clear path forward for managing creditor claims and other estate matters, informal probate is preferable to both the personal representative of the estate and the local government. It saves you time and money and reduces the load of the entire case significantly. 

In many cases, informal probate allows you to settle all matters involving the estate and then close probate in a smooth, painless process.

At the same time, not every estate meets the above criteria. You may have heirs disputing the validity of the will or the wording of the will’s instructions. You may encounter a piece of titled property that must be transferred, or you may find yourself in need of requesting a protected record related to the decedent’s past. You may also have complicated creditor disputes that could require court intervention to fully resolve.

Working With an Albuquerque Informal Probate Attorney

Probate judges and local court administrators are limited in their ability to conduct certain legal activities related to probate. It may be possible that your case is more complicated than the informal probate procedure implies, and in these instances, judges and court employees are legally forbidden from providing legal advice. 

You will also have to make key decisions during the probate process, including deciding when to close probate and begin distributing the estate’s assets.

Because of these complexities, the Bernalillo County Probate Court says that “it is highly recommended that you seek competent legal advice on any of these matters.”

Albuquerque Informal Probate Steps

In an informal probate, beneficiaries are notified after a personal representative has been named. Informal probate is best used when heirs get along and you have no reason to think there will be any future conflicts. These are the basic steps involved in the informal probate process:

  1. The will of the deceased names a personal representative or someone files an application with the local probate court to serve as the “personal representative.”
  2. Notice is sent out to heirs after the appointment of the personal representative and is often published in the local news media.
  3. Creditors are identified and paid.
  4. Property and assets are inventoried and appraised.
  5. Once bills and debts are paid, the remaining assets are distributed among beneficiaries.

Most probates are informal. We can assess your situation and determine if informal probate is right for you.

Issues That Can Complicate Probate

A well-organized estate plan can greatly increase the chances of a straightforward probate process. However, probate can become challenging when the following issues exist:

  • Lack of personal representative named — One of the most important things a testator (person drafting their own will) can do is to name a personal representative. This alone can significantly reduce the number of potential disputes that may arise. Without a personal representative named, beneficiaries may bicker and delay probate.
  • Will is outdated — An outdated will that fails to address life events will almost certainly lead to some level of contention among heirs.
  • Conflicting property claims exist — When multiple heirs lay claim to the same property, sometimes the court’s assistance is needed to settle probate. These disputes are resolved through a formal probate procedure.

In many cases, ensuring smooth probate lies in the hands of the testator. Whether you need counsel on a personal representative issue or drafting a comprehensive estate plan for yourself, our informal probate legal team is ready to help you take the next step.

Let New Mexico Financial & Family Law Assist You With Informal Probate

Informal probate can simplify and expedite the process of managing a loved one’s (or a client’s) estate. However, it is not a cure-all for the complications that can lie in the probate process. If there are questions as to how to interpret the will, how to pay off creditors, or how to honor all claims, this can derail the informal probate process — leading to formal probate conducted through the district court. The value of the estate may also come into question, requiring a professional’s review and guidance in order to determine if informal probate should, in fact, apply.

New Mexico Financial & Family Law is prepared to assist you and your family in all matters of probate. Whether formal or informal, our attorneys are here to help you make sense of probate law, determine the best path forward, and resolve any issues or complications using the optimal strategies available.

If you would like to speak with our informal probate lawyers, you can schedule a confidential, no-obligation consultation when you call (505) 886-9606 or contact us online.

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