Probate is the legal process used to authenticate a person’s last will and testament. While the estates of people who die without a will in place will automatically be passed through probate, estates with drafted wills can also be subject to this process depending on the circumstances.

Probate may seem like an intimidating experience, but it doesn’t have to be when you have quality legal counsel on your side. This is exactly what the estate planning attorneys at Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC offers to clients in Santa Fe, NM. We can help you craft a legally binding and valid will, which ensures a smooth journey for your property and assets. We can also help you prevent some of the more common issues during probate by planning ahead.

What to Expect During a Probate Hearing

Probate entails many different steps. After a person dies, their will is then filed with the court where the person lived. At the same time, the probate court can be petitioned to open a hearing regarding the deceased’s estate. At this point, the following will occur:

  1. The first step is to ensure the will is valid in the eyes of the court. If the document includes the signatures of witnesses this is usually considered enough evidence. Failing that, anyone who witnessed the signing may be called to testify.
  2. A representative will also be appointed. This person is responsible for settling outstanding debts, locating property and assets, and dispersing items to heirs.
  3. Once all the assets are accounted for, the representative will notify any creditors still owed money from the estate. Debts must be settled before heirs receive their allotted inheritances. Taxes will also need to be paid.
  4. The last step involves dispersing what remains of the estate according to the deceased’s wishes.

How You Can Avoid Probate

Not all estate planning options are subject to probate. For instance, assets placed in a trust are technically owned by the trust, which means they wouldn’t be included among the deceased’s assets.

The same can be said of property held jointly, as the co-owner would immediately gain rights when the other owner died. If you have a life insurance policy or retirement account and filled out associated beneficiary designations, these proceeds would automatically pass to your heirs upon your death.

Our Estate Planning Attorneys Are Here to Help You

Proper estate planning is the best defense against probate. Here at Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC, we will assist you in setting up an estate plan that will best serve your assets. This includes information on setting up trusts and how to ensure your will contains all the essential elements.

Schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney today by calling 505.832.3411. Clients in Santa Fe can also visit us online for more information on this legal topic. Skilled estate planning not only protects you financially, it also ensures your peace of mind.

Dedicated Advocacy. Meaningful Results.


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