Personal Representatives in New Mexico
A personal representative (“PR”) administers and winds down a decedent’s estate. What does this mean? Essentially, the PR must distribute the decedent’s money and property according to the probated will or, if there is no will, according to New Mexico’s laws of intestate succession. The PR also pays certain bills and taxes for the decedent.
Each state has its own rules governing personal representatives. This page covers who can be a PR in New Mexico, and what the PR can do.
Which people can be personal representatives in New Mexico?
New Mexico’s probate code defines a list of people who may serve as personal representatives in New Mexico:
- A person named in the probated will
- The surviving spouse if he or she is a devisee (i.e., a person receiving money or property under the will)
- Other devisees
- The surviving spouse (whether or not he or she is a devisee)
- Other heirs
- If 45 days have passed, any creditor
When more than one person seeks to be the PR, the person higher on the list has priority. In an informal proceeding, the probate court can appoint a PR with a lower priority only after receiving written consents from everyone with higher priority.
A person entitled to be appointed PR may decline and nominate in writing another qualified person. The nominee has the same priority as the person who nominated her.
What does a personal representative do?
The PR’s job is to take care of the decedent’s estate. This includes things like:
- Providing notice to heirs and devisees of the appointment of a PR
- Providing notice to creditors
- Preparing an inventory of real and personal property owned by the estate
- Allowing or denying claims against the estate
- Paying decedent’s federal and state income and state taxes
- Distributing assets according to will or laws of intestacy
A PR can also sell property and pay debts.
A PR who fails to perform their duties can be removed, have their actions undone, can be sued, and in some cases can be held personally liable. A PR can be removed for cause by the district court. A PR can also resign, though the resignation is not effective until a successor is appointed.
New Mexico’s probate laws are designed so that a simple estate can theoretically be administered without a lawyer. But many people will be better served by obtaining legal assistance. NMPEL offers affordable options that can give you peace of mind that the estate was handled correctly. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys to see whether we can help, please contact us at (505) 370-1500.