When Is Probate Needed?

When Is Probate Needed?

Not all estates require a probate filing or the appointment of a Personal Representative. The requirement for Probate depends on how the property that was owned by the decedent was titled and whether the decedent had arranged his or her property for automatic transfers upon death. Examples of matters that may need a probate proceeding include, but are not limited, to:

  • Dealing with creditors
  • Filing taxes, when necessary
  • Obtaining medical or other protected records
  • Transferring and changing the title to real estate or personal property such as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds

Please see our SubPage/Tab regarding Real Property and Probate Proceedings for more information regarding the transfer of title to real estate.

What Is the Deadline to File a Probate Case?

Normally, a probate case must be filed within 3 years of the decedent’s death. There are exceptions to this time limit, including when there is no Will and probate is necessary to confirm title to property such as real estate. Under New Mexico Law, a personal representative cannot be appointed until at least 120 hours (five days) after the death.

Once a probate case is filed, it should be kept open until all creditors receive notice, claims are resolved, taxes are paid, and estate assets are distributed. Once the probate file is closed, the Personal Representative no longer has the authority to act for the estate.

How Much Does It Cost to File a Probate Case?

The filing fee to file an informal probate case with the Probate Court is $30. The filing fee is due at the time of filing and can be made payable to the Taos County Clerk. The County Clerk accepts cash, checks, and credit cards (with a nominal convenience fee). The filing fee includes a full set of copies of all initial documents filed, as well as 2 certified copies of the Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary. Additional copies are $.50 per page and certifications are $1.50. All original documents, including the Last Will and Testament, are kept in the original file with the Probate Court and are not returned.

How to Open a Probate Case?

Completed Probate Forms, called pleadings, are presented to the Judge with the Original Will, if any, a copy of the Death Certificate or other proof of death, and the filing fee. The Applicant (the person asking the Court to appoint them as Personal Representative) must submit complete, accurate, and truthful pleadings to the Court.