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If you are the personal representative of an estate or are concerned about how an estate is being managed, you may have a contested probate case. In Albuquerque, and elsewhere, the estates of the recently deceased are primarily handled through an informal probate process. However, if there are disputes regarding the validity of the will or competing claims for limited estate resources, then the probate procedure moves to a “contested probate” situation.

Whether you are the administrator of an estate or someone concerned about a possible injustice related to how an estate is being handled, know that you may need outside help to resolve the situation. Contested probate can quickly devolve into a complicated scenario with many legal questions. In many cases, the disputing sides will have to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement so that probate can be resolved and closed, allowing the estate to be distributed according to a will or intestate rules.

The legal factors surrounding contested probate can be hazy. Court administrators are also legally forbidden from offering advice or legal guidance. What is often needed to proceed is an experienced Albuquerque contested probate lawyer familiar with matters of probate law and estate management. New Mexico Financial & Family Law has provided experienced and knowledgeable guidance in these matters to the Albuquerque community since 2005. Contact us for answers to your questions, to learn about your legal options, and to get the assistance you need for your case to seek the best outcome available.

Call (505) 933-7625 or contact us online now to schedule a confidential case review and consultation.

What Happens When There Is Contested Probate in Albuquerque?

Cases that involve contested probate cannot be handled through the Bernalillo County Probate Court system. Instead, the case will be moved to the Second District Court of New Mexico, located at the Downtown Albuquerque Courthouse.

Before a contest can be resolved, the family allowance and personal property allowance must be paid. Then, all reasonable and necessary administrative costs for the estate must be paid. After this, all disputes and creditor claims must be addressed before probate can be closed and the estate managed as normal.

What Should I Do When There Is a Probate Contest in Albuquerque?

Contested probate can mean drastically different things depending on your relationship to the decedent’s estate.

Personal Representative of a Contested Probate Estate in Albuquerque

If you are the personal representative of the estate (sometimes called the administrator or executor), then you must be prepared to resolve all competing claims.

You may, for example, be required to verify the validity of a will or prove that it was not drafted as a result of undue influence. Or, you may agree that there is no valid form of the will and must then agree to undergo the intestate succession rules for distributing assets.

As administrator to the estate with a fiduciary obligation, you must ultimately make the choice that is in the best interests of the estate as a whole, including the interests of any named devisees (heirs). Working with an experienced contested probate lawyer in Albuquerque is often the only means to reach an agreement that allows you to resolve all disputes in an optimal way so that the remainder of estate matters can be handled.

Contesting a Will Before Probate or During the Probate Process

If you are someone who feels they legally have an obligation to contest the will either before or during a probate proceeding, it is extremely beneficial to have an experienced Albuquerque legal advocate at your side.

The conditions under which a will — in part or in entirety — can be contested are highly specific. You must be prepared to make arguments with a firm basis in statutory law or court case precedent. You must also be prepared to document any claims in order to back up your assertions.

In nearly all cases, the court itself will try to avoid intervening and making a ruling to the extent possible. Instead, the courts actively encourage the disputing party and the personal representative of the estate to come to an agreement.

New Mexico Financial & Family Law can assist you with all steps of the process. We have represented personal representatives in some cases and contesting claims in others (never both, for obvious legal and ethical reasons). You, therefore, gain the experience of perspective on how the law typically applies to such cases and what your best legal options are.

If you feel like a will is invalid, or there is some other legally sound reason to contest probate, we are here for you. Reach out to us for a no-obligation, confidential consultation to get the process started.

Under What Circumstances Would a Will or Probate Case Be Contested in Albuquerque?

In Albuquerque, there are a few different ways someone might contest a will or probate case. This event can happen if there are questions about the validity of the will if there are concerns about how the estate is being managed, or if there is disagreement about who should inherit the deceased person’s property.
If you find yourself in one of the situations below, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the process and protect the interests of the estate while evaluating the merit of each contested claim from a legal standpoint.

If the will was not properly executed according to state law, it may be contested.

When estate planning, it is critical that the will of the decedent be properly and legally executed. If a will has been signed but not correctly witnessed,for example, or state requirements regarding how a will must be executed are not met, the will may be contested in probate court.
It is important to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney prior to death or medical incapacitation to ensure that all requirements for the proper execution of a last will and testament are met. A validly executed and properly appointed will can avoid lengthy and costly judicial proceedings where disputes arise over its legitimacy.

If there is evidence that the person who wrote the will was not of sound mind when they did so, the will may be contested.

When a will is disputed, it is important to consider whether or not the person who wrote the will was of sound mind when they did so. In other words, someone may ask, “did the testator (the person writing the will) have the mental capacity to know what they were executing?”
If there is any evidence presented that suggests otherwise — such as contradictory testimony from those who knew them or records that show the testator experienced frequent challenges in cognitive ability before the document was created — the validity of the will can be called into question. Depending on the nature and extent of evidence presented, a court may decide to hear contests, allowing someone to allege that a will was not created under conditions of good mental health.

If someone believes they are entitled to a portion of the estate that is not included in the will, they may contest it.

In some cases, there is a presumption that a direct relative or close family member should have claimed some inheritance in the will. When these individuals are left out of a will without any explicit reasoning or justification, they may be legally entitled to contest a will on the grounds that it should have included their expected share.
Contesting a will is a serious process and should not be taken lightly, as the outcome can have long-lasting effects. If someone feels they are rightfully due some portion of the estate in question and it is not included in the will, they need to act swiftly to ensure their rights are upheld.
To contest a will, potential beneficiaries should seek legal counsel to understand their rights, the procedures involved, and any available remedies. This process takes time and usually involves filing petitions, attending court proceedings, and presenting evidence in support of their case. Therefore, if you believe you are entitled to an inheritance from an estate that is not reflected in its will, it is important to seek legal advice without delay.

If there is fraud or coercion involved in the creation of the will, it may be contested.

When a will is created and executed, there must be the presence of testamentary capacity, which refers to the mental capacity to understand what a person is doing when executing their will.
If fraud, coercion, or any “undue influence” is discovered to be involved in the creation of a will, it may be contested through the court. Any person making such allegations should seek legal advice immediately, as evidence must be prepared and presented to declare the will invalid. The process of contesting wills can be complicated, and even more so if fraud or coercion are alleged; however, lawyers are here to provide guidance and advice on the matter so that individuals have all of the information needed to decide on whether or not to proceed with filing those difficult claims.

Finally, if there are two or more wills and it is not clear which one should be followed, this can lead to a probate case being contested in court.

When an individual passes away, and there are two or more wills in place, it can serve as the basis of a contested probate case if the documents cannot easily be reconciled to determine which has priority.
Courts may examine various factors to make a determination, such as creation date and any evidence of seeking legal advice related to the document. In any event, contested wills are most commonly resolved through agreement during complex settlement negotiations since court proceedings can take significant time and investment of resources. It is important for all parties involved to understand their rights and responsibilities based on the particular situation of the case.

Reach Out to Experienced Albuquerque Contested Probate Attorneys for Assistance

If you have questions about whether a will can be contested or if you need to contest a will, please call us at (505) 886-9606 or contact us online. Our experienced probate attorneys can help guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

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