Planning ahead for future health problems and death is a labor of love that may spare your family a great deal of emotional pain and financial loss. Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC can help you create the legal documents you need to stay in control of your medical care and assets in the event of incapacitation and death.

Living Will vs. Last Will & Testament

All Wills must be created when a person is of sound mind—i.e., competent to make rational decisions about their medical care and financial interests. And that may contribute to the confusion between a “living will” and a Last Will and Testament.

A living will, more formally known as a healthcare directive, is a document that instructs your designated decision maker and healthcare providers on your desired medical interventions. A healthcare directive does not pass your property to your heirs. That is the express purpose of a Last Will and Testament (Will).

Last Will & Testament Validity

In New Mexico, if you do not like the intestate plan created by the State for you, then you must create a Will. A Will is a written document, signed by the testator and witnessed in a formal setting, that follows the various formalities required to:

  • Pass your assets to your intended beneficiaries
  • Disinherit your heirs if desired

New Mexico recognizes various types of Wills, including:

  • Joint wills
  • Mutual wills
  • Wills with Testamentary Trusts
  • Pour-over wills

New Mexico does not accept a holographic Will created within the State but may recognize the validity of a holographic Will created under the jurisdiction of another state.

In order to be recognized by the State, a Will must be:

  • Created by a person over the age of 18 who is of sound mind
  • Witnessed and signed by someone over the age of 18
  • Signed by a Notary Public

These provisions are absolutely necessary to avoid disputes over a Will’s validity, which can lead to costly litigation among families and other interested parties.

Revoking a Last Will & Testament

In New Mexico, you can revoke a Last Will & Testament. There are specific steps that you must follow in order to revoke a Will, and it is important to replace a revoked Will or you may be subject to the laws of intestate succession.

The most effective way to revoke a Will is to make a new Will that completely disposes of the testator’s entire estate. The new Will usually includes language, such as, “This Will revokes all prior Wills and codicils made by me.” The date the testator signed the new Will should also appear at the end of the document.

New Mexico law allows other methods of revoking a Will, including:

  • Creating a separate revocation document
  • Creating a codicil (amendment) that revokes only a portion of the Will

In order to be valid, a codicil must:

  1. Identify the will that is being amended, including the date the will was signed;
  2. State the testator’s name and domicile;
  3. Specify in detail what changes are being made; and
  4. State which sections of the will remain in

A codicil must be executed in the same manner as a Will, which means the testator must sign and date a codicil in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the codicil.

Comprehensive Estate Planning

The formalities required for a Will or codicil revoking a Will are not always easy to find out. That often puts individuals trying to responsibly plan for their futures at risk of not having their wishes carried out after death.

The Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC estate planning team provides the expert legal counsel you need to create Healthcare Directives, Last Wills & Testaments and related documents that will ensure your intentions for medical care and estate distribution are carried out when you are no longer mentally or physically able to execute those wishes on your own.

You can start your estate planning today. Complete our Simple Will Questionnaire and contact us to schedule an initial consultation. Our office is located near downtown Albuquerque, but our attorneys can travel or consult via video and phone for those in remote areas of New Mexico.

Dedicated Advocacy. Meaningful Results.


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