At Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC, we strongly encourage families to dedicate adequate time to estate planning so that the wealth you spent your life building is preserved, protected and distributed according to your wishes. However, untimely deaths or the hope that tomorrow will come puts many families in the position of being subject to the government’s plan for estate distribution.
If your family needs assistance navigating the probate process or is encountering disputes along the way, our attorneys can help.
Matters that fall under the jurisdiction of Probate Court involve a lot of legal vocabulary. Knowing how certain terms are used can immediately make the probate process and estate distribution easier.
Common legal terms that arise in probate issues include:
Decedent: the person who died whose estate is at issue
Beneficiary: any entity—individual, company, financial vehicle, etc.—who may acquire real property, personal property or other assets left by the decedent
Heir: a person related to the decedent by blood or marriage
Personal representative: a person named/recognized by the Court as having authority to act on behalf of the decedent to settle the estate, pay taxes, etc.
Settlement of an estate may fall to Probate Court. If your family’s estate is subject to the government plan, you may expect the probate process to entail:
*If it appears from the inventory and appraisal that the value of the estate does not exceed expenses and applicable allowances, the personal representative may immediately disburse the assets of the estate and file a statement of summary administration that attests:
If no proceedings involving the personal representative are pending one year after filing the statement of summary administration, the personal representative’s appointment is terminated.
Even if the estate can be distributed quickly, the probate process can be quite expensive as it often requires filing fees, appraisals, attorney’s fees and accountant’s fees.
If no valid will exists, then the decedent is said to be intestate, and transferring the assets to the new owners is subject to intestate succession. In New Mexico, intestate succession is as follows:
Attorneys have ways to find lost heirs and can help distinguish between community and separate property so that children from previous relationships and a decedent’s spouse receive the assets to which they are entitled.
It is difficult to contain the cost of probate once you are in the process. The decedent’s estate has to be valued, and all creditors and heirs have to be identified. However, you can avoid much of the costs associated with probate through estate planning.
The Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC estate planning team can help you create the legal and financial vehicles, such as wills and trusts, that allow you to bypass Probate Court and control to whom and how your assets are distributed upon death.
Start estate planning today. Complete our Probate Client Information Sheet and contact us to schedule an initial consultation at our Albuquerque office. If you are unable to meet in Albuquerque, please ask about our remote consultation options.