New Mexico Small Estates Law


Wills and Estates – Small Estates – New Mexico

Small Estates General Summary: Small Estate laws were enacted in order to enable heirs to obtain property of the deceased without probate, or with shortened probate proceedings, provided certain conditions are met. Small estates can be administered with less time and cost.  If the deceased had conveyed most property to a trust but there remains some property, small estate laws may also be available.  Small Estate procedures may generally be used regardless of whether there was a Will.  In general, the two forms of small estate procedures are recognized:
1.   Small Estate Affidavit -Some States allow an affidavit to be executed by the spouse and/or heirs of the deceased and present the affidavit to the holder of property such as a bank to obtain property of  the deceased. Other states require that the affidavit be filed with the Court.  The main requirement before you may use an affidavit is that the value of the personal and/or real property of the estate not exceed a certain value.
2.   Summary Administration -Some states allow a Summary administration. Some States recognize both the Small Estate affidavit and Summary Administration, basing the requirement of which one to use on the value of the estate. Example: If the estate value is 10,000 or less an affidavit is allowed but if the value is between 10,000 to 20,000 a summary administration is allowed.

New Mexico Summary:
Under New Mexico statute, where as estate is valued at less than $30,000, an interested party may, thirty (30) days after the death of the decedent, issue a small estate affidavit to collect any debts owed to the decedent.

New Mexico:
New Mexico requirements are set forth in the statutes below.

PART 12 COLLECTION OF PERSONAL PROPERTY  BY AFFIDAVIT AND SUMMARY ADMINISTRATION PROCEDURE FOR SMALL ESTATES

45-3-1201. Collection of personal property by affidavit.

A.  Thirty days after the death of a decedent, any person indebted to the decedent or having possession of tangible personal property or an instrument evidencing a debt, obligation, stock or chose in action belonging to the decedent shall make payment of the indebtedness or deliver the tangible personal property or an instrument evidencing a debt, obligation, stock or chose in action to a person claiming to be the successor of the decedent upon being presented an affidavit made by or on behalf of the successor stating that:

(1) the value of the entire estate, wherever located, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed thirty thousand dollars ($30,000);
(2) thirty days have elapsed since the death of the decedent;
(3) no application or petition for the appointment of a personal representative is pending or has been granted in any jurisdiction; and
(4) the claiming successor is entitled to payment or delivery of the property.

B.  A transfer agent of any security shall change the registered ownership on the books of a corporation from the decedent to the successor or successors upon the presentation of an affidavit as provided in Subsection A of this section.

C.  The affidavit made pursuant to this section may not be used to perfect title to real estate.
History: 1953 Comp., § 32A-3-1201, enacted by Laws 1975, ch. 257, § 3-1201; 1983, ch. 194, § 8; 1995, ch. 210, § 48.

45-3-1202. Effect of affidavit.

The person paying, delivering, transferring or issuing personal property or the evidence thereof pursuant to affidavit is discharged and released to the same extent as if he dealt with a personal representative of the decedent. He is not required to see to the application of the personal property or evidence thereof or to inquire into the truth of any statement in the affidavit. If any person to whom an affidavit is delivered refuses to pay, deliver, transfer or issue any personal property or evidence thereof, it may be recovered or its payment, delivery, transfer or issuance compelled upon proof of their right in a proceeding brought for the purpose by or on behalf of the persons entitled thereto. Any person to whom payment, delivery, transfer or issuance is made is answerable and accountable therefor to any personal representative of the estate or to any other person having a superior right.

History: 1953 Comp., § 32A-3-1202, enacted by Laws 1975, ti. 257, § 3-1202.

45-3-1203. Small estates; summary administrative procedure.

If it appears from the inventory and appraisal that the value of the entire estate, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed the family allowance, personal property allowance, costs and expenses of administration, reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last illness of the decedent and reasonable funeral expenses, the personal representative, without giving notice to creditors, may immediately disburse and distribute the estate to the persons entitled thereto and file a closing statement as provided in Section 3-1204 [45-3-1204 NMSA 1978].

History: 1953 Comp., § 32A-3-1203, enacted by Laws 1975, ch. 257, § 3-1203.

45-3-1204. Small estates; closing by sworn statement of personal representative.

A.  Unless prohibited by order of the district court and except for estates being administered by supervised personal representatives, a personal representative may close an estate administered under the summary procedures of Section 45-3-1203 NMSA 1978 by filing with the court, at any time after disbursement and distribution of the estate, a verified statement stating that:

(1) to the best knowledge of the personal representative, the value of the entire estate, less liens and encumbrances, did not exceed the family allowance, personal property allowance, costs and expenses of administration, reasonable necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last illness of the decedent and reasonable funeral expenses;
(2) the personal representative has fully administered the estate by disbursing and distributing it to the persons entitled thereto; and
(3) the personal representative has sent a copy of the closing statement to all distributees of the estate and to all creditors or other claimants of whom he is aware whose claims are neither paid nor barred and has furnished a full account in writing of his administration to the distributees whose interests are affected.

B.  If no actions or proceedings involving the personal representative are pending in court one year after the closing statement is filed, the appointment of the personal representative terminates.

C.  A closing statement filed under this section has the same effect as one filed under Section 45-3-1003 NMSA 1978.

History: 1953 Comp., § 32A-3-1204, enacted by Laws 1975, ch. 257, § 3-1204; 1983, ch. 194, § 9.

45-3-1205. Small estates; transfer of title to homestead to surviving spouse by affidavit.

A.  Where a husband and wife own a homestead as community property and when either the husband or wife dies intestate or dies testate and by their will devise their interest in the homestead to the surviving spouse, the homestead passes to the survivor and no probate or administration is necessary.

B.  Six months after the death of a decedent, the surviving spouse may record with the county clerk in the county in which the homestead is located an affidavit describing the real property and stating that:

(1) six months have elapsed since the death of the decedent as shown in a certified copy of the death certificate attached to the affidavit;
(2) the affiant and the decedent were at the time of the death of the decedent married and owned the homestead as community property;
(3) a copy of the deed with a legal description of the homestead is attached to the affidavit;
(4) but for the homestead, the decedent’s estate need not be subject to any judicial probate proceeding either in district court or probate court;
(5) no application or petition for appointment of a personal representative or for admittance of a will to probate is pending or has been granted in any jurisdiction;
(6) funeral expenses, expenses of last illness and all unsecured debts of the decedent have been paid;
(7) the affiant is the surviving spouse of the decedent and is entitled to title to the homestead by intestate succession as provided in Section 45-2-102 NMSA 1978 or by devise under a valid last will of the decedent, the original of which is attached to the affidavit;
(8) no other person has a right to the interest of the decedent in the described property;
(9) no federal or state tax is due on the decedent’s estate; and
(10) the affiant affirms that all statements in the affidavit are true and correct and further acknowledges that any false statement may subject the person to penalties relating to perjury and subornation of perjury.

C.  As used in this section, “homestead” means the principal place of residence of the decedent or surviving spouse or the last principal place of residence if neither the decedent nor the surviving spouse is residing in that residence because of illness or incapacitation and which consists of one or more dwellings together with appurtenant structures, the land underlying both the dwellings and the appurtenant structures and a quantity of land reasonably necessary for parking and other uses that facilitates the use of the dwellings and appurtenant structures, and provided the value of this property for property taxation purposes does not exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).

History: 1978 Comp., § 45-3-1205, enacted by Laws 1985, ch. 12, § 1; 1985, ch. 132, § 1.

45-3-1206. Effect of affidavit.

A purchaser of real property from or lender to the surviving spouse designated as such in the affidavit recorded under Section 45-3-1205 NMSA 1978 is entitled to the same protection as a person purchasing from or lending to a distributee who has received a deed of distribution from a personal representative as provided in Section 45-3-910 NMSA 1978.

History: 1978 Comp., § 45-3-1206, enacted by Laws 1985, ch. 12, § 2; 1985, ch. 132, § 2.