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If you have recently experienced the death of a loved one who resided in Albuquerque and that loved one may not have had a valid will, then you may be involved in an intestate succession case. Intestate succession refers to rules that apply when there is no valid will. These rules dictate who inherits the estate’s assets in the absence of a will or other instructions.

Intestate succession cases may involve a decedent who died without any sort of will. There may also be a situation where the will(s) available may not be valid, or there is no way to determine which will is the original.

An intestate succession case involves many important legal questions. For one, it may not be clear who should be designated as the personal representative of the estate. For another, someone may be trying to assert that there is, in fact, a valid form of a will that means intestate succession does not apply. There are also concerns that may be raised by family members and other possible devisees (heirs).

Resolving these matters is rarely easy, and it often requires professional legal help. New Mexico Financial & Family Law can provide seasoned legal representation and guidance during the process. Whether you are a loved one concerned about properly administrating your passed relative’s estate or you are someone who considers themself a rightful heir to an estate’s assets, going through the intestate succession process can be a lot to manage on your own. We are here to provide advice, guidance, and legal advocacy every step of the way.

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

What Happens When There Is No Will When Someone Dies in Albuquerque?

There are two possible scenarios for an intestate succession case after a person’s death in Albuquerque:

1. There is, without a doubt, no will available because the decedent did not attempt to draft one before their death. This scenario is common when there is a death of someone under 65 or when the death is sudden.
2. There are documents that could serve as a will, but there are concerns that there is no valid will or that there are competing versions with no clear original will.

In scenario #1, your case may still be handled through the Bernalillo County Probate Process for intestate estates. The case may be probated, and once the family allowance, estate administration costs, and any creditor claims are resolved, then the estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestate successions, outlined below.

In scenario #2, where there is a question as to whether there is a valid will, then the case will likely be handled instead in the Second District Court of New Mexico. Typically, the court will expect the designated personal representative of the estate to determine a legally acceptable means of deciding whether or not there is a valid will. In rare cases, the court may directly intervene and judge whether there is a valid will or whether intestate succession applies. But generally, the court prefers for the estate administrator to come to the final decision, which saves both the state and the private parties involved time, money, and effort.

In both cases, the input of a seasoned Albuquerque intestate succession attorney may be needed. Reach out to New Mexico Financial & Family Law for legal assistance or for representation in order to handle your case and seek the best outcome available.

Who Is Designated as the Personal Representative of the Estate When Someone Dies Intestate in Albuquerque?

In approximately 99% of scenarios, someone directly related to the decedent or who had a strong fiduciary relationship with the decedent during their life steps up and volunteers to petition to be recognized as the personal representative. If the person has valid standing, the court will not hesitate to grant them personal representative status.

In some cases, especially where no one else volunteers, the court will allow a creditor who was owed a debt by the decedent to act as the personal representative and to guide the case through probate.

However, there are rare cases where several people volunteer at once, and there is a contest to prove who is the most valid. Again, the court may make a final ruling recognizing one of these individuals, but it will generally request that all parties come to a consensus that does not require court intervention. It may be possible for two or more parties to be recognized as co-representatives, but these situations are rare, as they may inevitably turn into a power struggle between the designated parties.

Generally speaking, it is best for the family, friends, and other close associates of the decedent to meet and discuss the matter and decide on the individual best-suited for the task. Ideally, this individual will have a close relationship with the decedent, allowing the court to recognize them as an “appropriate” designate. The person should also be trustworthy and able to serve in the capacity of a fiduciary to the estate, meaning they can carry out their duties with respect to the estate itself and those who would inherit its property by intestate means.

What Happens When A Person Dies Without A Will in Albuquerque?

In Albuquerque, if a person dies without a will, their estate will be distributed according to the intestacy laws of New Mexico. These laws determine how property is distributed among surviving family members.
If you die without a will in Albuquerque, in most cases, your spouse and children will inherit your property. If you have no spouse or children, your parents will inherit your property. More-distant relatives may inherit if you have no immediate surviving family members, on down to cousins and family of your grandparents’ siblings, etc.
If you have no surviving relatives, your property will go to the state of New Mexico. However, because the state makes every effort to identify a living relative, these “escheat” scenarios are almost unheard of.
The intestacy laws can be complex, so it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney if you have questions about how your estate would be divided.

If a person dies without a will in Albuquerque, and has children but no spouse:

In Albuquerque, if a person passes away without a will and is survived by minor children but no spouse, the court often appoints a personal representative to manage their estate. The court may consider any relatives of the deceased when appointing someone to this position, but in the absence of any such individuals, they may appoint an executor from outside of the family.
In this case, it’s important to ensure that an experienced personal representative is appointed in order to properly handle the deceased’s estate and ensure that it goes to their children as intended. Furthermore, consulting with an attorney can provide guidance to ensure that all of the necessary legal documents are completed accurately and promptly.
Ultimately, having a will in place is always a wise idea regardless of life circumstances — although even in cases where there isn’t one present, there are still ways to guarantee your loved ones’ legacy is honored.

If a person dies without a will in Albuquerque, has a spouse but no children:

In Albuquerque, if a person passes away without a will but is survived by a legally recognized spouse, the process of distributing their estate is straightforward. Under these circumstances, all jointly owned marital property automatically becomes the sole property of the spouse, and the decedent’s remaining separate property passes to the surviving spouse through probate, according to state law.
It’s important to understand that under these guidelines, any separate property held by the deceased individual — heirs or blood relatives excluded — will become the sole property of their surviving spouse. If you’re unfamiliar with your rights and duties as a beneficiary, it’s highly recommended that you speak with an experienced lawyer.

If a person dies without a will in Albuquerque, has parents but no spouse or children:

If a person dies without leaving behind a legally binding will in Albuquerque, understanding what happens next may feel uncertain. However, there are laws in place specific to this scenario.
For example, if the deceased has both parents still living but does not have any children or spouse, then their estate will be distributed to their parents as joint tenants. Albuquerque’s Second District Courts can help adjudicate further questions and concerns relating to this process.

If a person dies without a will in Albuquerque, has siblings but no children, spouse, or children:

When someone passes away without having written a will in the city of Albuquerque, and that individual has siblings but no spouse, children or other legal heirs, assets will be identified and distributed according to state guidelines to surviving siblings. If there are no siblings, property may pass to surviving grandchildren, aunts & uncles, and other relatives in increasing line of distance, possibly even including children borne by the decedent or their spouse for the purposes of surrogacy. From step-children to cousins, grand nieces and nephews, increasingly distant relatives stand to inherit through intestacy if immediate family members are not present.

If a person dies without a will in Albuquerque, has a spouse and children:

From the perspective of a lawyer in Albuquerque, the spouse is recognized as the primary beneficiary and so affords access to all legal documents or assets. This may include checking accounts or investments that can be used for immediate cash needs. In tandem with this, all real estate or any lasting properties held jointly with the spouse are then transferred the spouse.
As for separate property, the spouse inherits just ¼ of this, and the remaining property solely belonging to the decedent is split evenly between surviving progeny.

Speak to a Probate Attorney in Albuquerque to Avoid Intestacy or Administrate an Intestate Estate

If you have any questions about what would happen to your assets if you were to die without a will in Albuquerque, please do not hesitate to contact our office for advice on estate planning. Our team of experienced probate lawyers can answer any questions you may have and assist you in drafting an estate plan that meets your unique needs.
If you are unfortunate enough to have a spouse or close relative die without a will, seek legal advice from our probate lawyers in Albuquerque to learn how to be appointed as personal representative of the estate and to handle the administration of the estate in the most effective manner for all beneficiaries.
Call or contact us today to schedule a no-risk, no-obligation consultation with our experienced probate law team. You can reach us by phone at (505) 933-7625 or by contacting us online to schedule your appointment today.

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