New Mexico’s Probate Law Identifies the Succession of Heirs

  • 11/20/2013

​New Mexico has probably one of the more “friendly” probate laws on the books versus other states. In fact, it was one of a handful of states to adopt the Uniform Probate Code (developed in 1969) back in 1975. The statute has since been amended nationally and by the state. One aspect of the code defines who the heirs are in the event of a person’s death. With a large percentage of marriages, divorces and multi-spouse, multi-children families part of our culture, the answer to this question can become complex quite quickly. Here is what the State of New Mexico has to say about heirs:

If a married person dies, the surviving spouse and children (biological and adopted) are heirs. Technically, all property goes to the spouse unless a will is written to change that. If the person was separated but not divorced, the living spouse is still an heir. If the deceased person was divorced, the prior spouse is not an heir, but any children from that marriage are heirs. If the person was engaged to be married, the fiancé is not an heir. If the deceased person had step or foster children, they are not heirs; if the person had children outside a marriage and/or a child was born after the death of the person, those children are heirs.

If a person dies with no spouse and no children, then the parents or surviving parent of the deceased become heirs. If both parents are deceased at the time of the person’s death, then the brothers and sisters of the deceased become heirs. If one or more brother or sister has preceded in death, then the children of that brother and/or sister become heirs. If a child dies before the parents, any children that child may have had are heirs. If all children of the deceased have died, all children they have had are heirs.

It’s still confusing, isn’t it? Remember, New Mexico has one of the more user-friendly probate laws in the nation. 

Because the passing on of property and wealth to heirs is such an important part of our lives, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney to discuss and understand such laws in New Mexico. Probate court can cost money, and generally family members have not worked all their lives so their heirs could use their inheritance to pay to sort things out at the time of their loved one’s death. 

Additionally, there are more technical questions like common law marriage rights after death and the rights of relatives who are not United States citizens. You’ll also need to know how to choose a personal representative for the estate. It is recommended that you consult an attorney skilled in probate law prior to facing the situations listed above, and especially if you’re facing even more complex matters. If you are in need of an Albuquerque probate lawyer then contact Eric Ortiz Law. You can contact them at 1122 Central SW, Albuquerque, or by calling 505-720-0070.