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If a loved one who recently passed resided in Rio Rancho, you may find yourself involved in the probate process. Your loved one’s estate may be able to avoid probate if it has limited assets, there are no outstanding creditor claims, and there are no disputes to the will. However, it can always benefit you to review your case and the details of your loved one’s estate with the help of an experienced probate lawyer in Rio Rancho.

At New Mexico Financial & Family Law we are experienced with handling probate cases and other sensitive matters in Sandoval County as well as Bernalillo County and surrounding areas. If you have questions about an estate or feel overwhelmed as a result of being appointed an estate representative, we are here to provide you with answers and legal guidance.

Speak to us during a confidential, no-obligation case review to learn about the most important factors in cases like yours. Schedule your consultation today when you call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online.

Finding Your Probate Court in Rio Rancho, New Mexico

When you experience the death of a loved one, there are two different court systems your probate case could go through:

When to File Probate in the Sandoval County Probate Court

You may file probate in the Sandoval County Probate Court system when your loved one either:

  1. Resided in Sandoval County at the time of their death
  2. Resided elsewhere, but owned real property in Sandoval County

Additionally, the estate must be eligible for informal probate in Rio Rancho. There must be no disputes over the will’s validity, contested probate, disagreements regarding creditor claims, or questions regarding heirship.

Most probate cases handled through the Sandoval County Probate Court system will be relatively straightforward for the personal representative of the estate to handle. However, note that the employees and elected officials of the court cannot provide legal advice, which includes assistance for how to fill out forms. Additionally, managing a probate case involves crucial legal decisions that can have an impact on the estate itself. A common example is that the personal representative must decide when to close probate, which allows the estate to be distributed to heirs.

When to File Probate in the Thirteenth Judicial District Court of New Mexico

Cases not eligible to be handled in the Sandoval County Probate Court must be processed instead through the Thirteenth Judicial Court of New Mexico. These cases may involve disputes, a contested will, or a need for a court to resolve issues related to the appointment of a personal representative or the handling of a trust.

If you are filing a probate case through the Thirteenth Judicial District Court of New Mexico, you are likely to have many competing interests involved in your probate case. It may mean creditor claims, a will dispute, or multiple intended heirs fighting over limited resources. You are likely to need assistance from an experienced Rio Rancho probate attorney to help you resolve these matters while preserving the interests of the estate itself.

Filing a Claim or Dispute for a Rio Rancho Probate Case

If you are not the personal representative of the estate but have an interest in the estate’s probate case, New Mexico Financial & Family Law can assist you. The most important factor is that you act fast before the case is completed and probate is closed. You will likely be filing an action in the Thirteenth Judicial District Court of New Mexico while also handling private negotiations at the same time. Our attorneys can assist you with building the facts of your case and also with helping to resolve your claim or dispute in a manner suitable to all parties.

What Is Probate?

Probate refers to the process of a court reviewing a will, adjudicating creditor claims and other claims on the estate, and appointing a personal representative of the estate to manage the disbursement of assets, among other actions. Probate may also take place if there is no valid will, causing the estate to be disbursed by way of intestate succession.

Not every death or estate requires probate. Estates valued at less than $50,000 at the time of the decedent’s death can go through a simplified and expedited probate process. Some assets may be transferable through an affidavit rather than a probate hearing. Estates with no competing heir claims or creditor claims can go through a different form of simplified probate, not requiring a formal court hearing. 

Whether you are a personal representative or an heir managing probate or you are someone interested in learning more about probate as part of your estate planning process, we are here to help. New Mexico Financial & Family Law has been assisting individuals after the death of a loved one for decades, and we also provide guidance and legal services related to estate planning. If you have questions about probate or require assistance managing a probate case after death, do not hesitate to consult a probate lawyer familiar with New Mexico law. 

What Does Probate Law Involve?

Probate is a process that occurs when the courts feel the need to review a will, assess validity, and determine how to honor creditor claims and other claims while still following the language of the will to the extent possible.

The majority of probate work is performed by the personal representative of the estate, who will be designated by the court according to the decedent’s wishes or other relevant factors. The representative must notify creditors (if any), disburse expenses for the estate’s management, pay the family and personal property allowance, and approve of property transfers in accordance with the will.

The courts may rule on matters in the event there are competing claims or a question of how to pay priority claims when there are limited funds available.

Types of Probate Procedures in Rio Rancho

There are many types of cases and procedures associated with probate. Some of these cases will be managed entirely through the probate court, whereas others may be processed through the district court.

New Mexico Financial & Family Law can assist you and your family with all matters of probate, including the following:

  • Formal probate — Formal probate is necessary when there are disputes between beneficiaries regarding the distribution of assets, the language of the will, or the amounts paid to creditors. Unlike formal probate, here, there is a court hearing where a judge must approve certain actions and settle disputes.
  • Informal probate — Informal probate is used when heirs cooperate, there are no creditors’ actions, and you do not anticipate any other problems or conflicts.
  • Intestate succession — When a person dies without a will, their estate is divided in accordance with New Mexico’s intestate succession rules.
  • Contested probate — Disagreements between beneficiaries, creditor disputes, and third-party claims can disrupt the probate process.
  • Family allowance in probate — Under New Mexico’s Uniformed Probate code, a decedent’s surviving spouse is entitled to thirty thousand dollars. If no surviving spouse exists, minor and dependent children are entitled to a family allowance of thirty thousand dollars split evenly.

Do All Estates and Wills Have to Be Probated?

If you are worried about the complexity, stress, and expense of dealing with probate, those who have recently lost a loved one can likely breathe a sigh of relief. There is a good chance that your loved one’s estate may not require formal probate proceedings. The full probate process is reserved for estates in which there are competing claims, unresolved creditor claims, or questions for how to allocate limited funds while honoring the decedent’s wishes to the extent possible. Many families can avoid probate procedures or benefit from expedited procedures.

Determining whether your case needs to go through the full probate process can be difficult without assistance from an experienced probate attorney. While it is true that creditors and other claimants have a limited window to file a claim against the estate, some claims against certain property can be raised up to three years after the decedent’s death. 

Being thorough is the goal so that once the main estate management tasks are done and priority claims are paid out, the personal representative no longer has to worry about unexpected legal matters. This is why it is so important to consult with an experienced probate law attorney in New Mexico: it provides you peace of mind while allowing you to honor the decedent’s wishes to the extent possible.

Exemptions to the Probate Process

Below are a few examples of when probate might not be needed:

  • Affidavit transfer — If the value of the estate is $50,000 or less, and/or the primary residence of the decedent was held jointly with the decedent’s living spouse and is valued at $500,000 or less, the property can be transferred through a sworn affidavit rather than probate.
  • No creditor claims or competing heir claims — Wills without contesting claims or creditor claims can be processed without formal probate.
  • Holding property in trust — Property placed in a living trust is not considered part of the decedent’s estate and, therefore, is not subject to probate.
  • Transfer upon death assets — Certain accounts, securities, property deeds, and other assets may be given a “transfer upon death” designation, ensuring the property goes to someone else without the need for will instructions or probate.
  • Life insurance and other accounts with named beneficiaries — The benefits of these accounts, which can include life insurance policies as well as retirement accounts, 401 (k), Roth IRA, etc. will be transferred to the named beneficiary.

Learn More About Probate, Or Plan Around Probate With the Help of Rio Rancho Attorneys

Our New Mexico probate attorneys are here to assist you with all matters involving probate. We know that these laws can be complex, and just when you think you have matters clear, there may be a priority claim you have to manage.

Get assistance from experienced legal and probate law attorneys at a firm that focuses on making these matters easier. After the death of your loved one, you just want to honor their wishes and return to as normal of a life as possible. Reach these goals, and learn how to handle any challenges with the assistance of a probate law attorney near you.

Call (505) 886-9606 or contact us online to schedule your no-obligation case review now.

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