Probate Court

300 Shakespeare 
Lordsburg, NM 88045
575.542.9512

Office Hours:

Monday   9 AM - 4 PMcourtroom2.jpg
Wednesday  9 AM - 2 PM
or by appointment 

Probate Judge

Carmen Acosta

E-Mail 

Mission

To make probate matters understandable to citizens who can file informal probate proceedings that fully meet legal requirements. To conduct marriage ceremonies with convenience, dignity, and in a manner fully pleasing to those involved.

Responsibilities

Probate Court is responsible for the managment of informal probate proceedings.

It conducts marriage ceremonies of those holding a NM marriage license.

It aids heirs in timely resolution of issues regarding real and personal property of deceased persons and alleviates the need for attorneys in matters easily completed by ordinary citizens. If complications or contentions arise, attorneys are suggested.

Purpose of the Court

Probate is the judicial process for transferring the property of a person who has died (called a decedent).  The property is transferred according to either (1) the decedent’s Will or (2) if the decedent died without a Will, according to New Mexico’s laws of intestate succession.  The Probate Court appoints a legally qualified person, called a Personal Representative, to manage and settle the decedent’s business affairs.  Personal Representative distributes the deceased person’s estate property, real and personal, to the rightful recipients. Rightful recipients might include heirs, devisees named in a valid and current Will, or creditors.

State laws also allow Probate Judges to perform marriages within their county only. 

When is a Probate Required?

Not all estates require a probate or a Personal Representative. Much depends on how the decedent’s property was titled. But when a probate is necessary, the person seeking appointment as Personal Representative applies to the Probate Court (or the District Court) to obtain authority to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate. 

Time Requirements

Normally, a probate must be filed within three years following the decedent’s death, New Mexico law says that no probate may be filed during the first 120 hours (5 days) following the death.

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

Cost

The recording fee to file for an informal probate in the Probate Court is $30.00. Certification of filed documents  is $1.00 per document. To have files copied by the Court cost $.25 per page.  The Court accepts cash, checks, money order or cashier’s checks.

Resources

Probate Court cases can be filed with or without the help of an attorney. A packet with do-it-yourself forms is available for $5.00 from the Probate Court. 

Sometimes after reviewing the packet of paperwork involved and the responsibilities of serving as a Personal Representative of an estate, people will hire an attorney.  Knowing when to obtain competent legal services is essential. The Probate Judge can provide information, but not legal services. 

Forms can also be downloaded for free from the Supreme Court Law Library at http://nmsupremecourt.nmcourts.gov

Probate Jurisdiction

The Probate Judge is a part-time position. 

Probate courts for each county were established by the New Mexico Constitution.  That constitutional section gives the New Mexico Legislature power to define the jurisdiction of the probate courts within the scope of the constitution.

Probate Court is given powers in the administering of wills, executing of estates (with or without wills), and performing marriage ceremonies.

What You Should Know

zia.gifRemember that at least 120 hours and no more than three years must have elapsed since the decedent's passing, unless probate is required to pass title to real property. 

Publication of the proceedings is not required, but is suggested to protect all parties involved.