Probate – I’m Scared of Probate, Is It Necessary?

Scared of Probate?!

First of all, you probably shouldn’t be.  Probate in New Mexico is not that expensive or overly drawn-out process that you might have heard about in other states.  The cost of opening probate in New Mexico is small, and without complicating factors, can be completed in between four and six months.

However, there are options for people who wish to avoid probate altogether.  Often, probate can be avoided by using things like transfer on death deeds for a home or other real property, and payable on death designations for bank accounts.  In certain circumstances, it may make sense to own property jointly with another person.  Retirement accounts and life insurance policies, in general, pass outside of probate if a valid beneficiary designations is on file.

Another common avenue for avoiding probate is to establish a trust and put all of your transferable property into the trust.  Trusts may be appropriate if you own property in multiple states.  Opening probate in all of the states in which you own property can become costly. A trust may be helpful if you own a business and desire a seamless transition after death.  Likewise, if you have children from multiple marriages or have concerns about what your spouse will do with your estate after you pass away a trust might be a good option. But don’t forget- if you don’t fund your trust completely, property that isn’t in the trust may need to be probated.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the estate planner, probate can sometimes be opened by creditors or beneficiaries, even if the deceased person did everything they could to avoid that from happening.

Getting good advice and researching your options can help you feel more prepared to create the estate plan that is right for you and your family.  A knowledgeable estate planning and probate attorney can help guide you to your best options for avoiding probate, or assist your loved ones in navigating the probate process when you are gone.