When a person dies, a process known as "estate administration" must be carried out. This refers to all the procedures which must be followed in distributing a person's estate to their heirs or devisees.
If the decedent wrote a will before his or her death in Taos, New Mexico, the process will be carried out according to the directives contained in the will, assuming they are valid and enforceable.
The decedent usually names in the will an executor of his or her estate. The executor is the person whose job it is to take the lead role in the administration of an estate.
The executor generally has at least some work cut out for them. This obviously raises the issue of compensation. The easiest way to ensure that the executor does his or her job is simply to appoint the person who has the most to gain from the will. That way, they cannot inherit until the process is completed.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If a will in Taos, New Mexico does not name a person to serve as executor, or the decedent dies without having written a will, the court will appoint a person to act as estate administrator.
This is most often the person who would inherit most under the will, or under the intestacy scheme of New Mexico. Intestacy is when a person dies without having made a will, or if a will turns out to be invalid. The intestacy laws of each state determine how property is distributed in such a situation. In most states, it simply goes to the closest living relative.
When a will is silent as to who should be the executor, any person who has some direct interest in the outcome can ask to be named executor by the Taos, New Mexico court.
Whoever ends up as the executor, it is their responsibility to serve as the personal representative of the estate. They will be responsible for taking account of all of the decedent's assets and debts, as well as notifying beneficiaries who may be estranged from the decedent, among other things.
Can a Taos, New Mexico Estate Administration Attorney Help?
If you find yourself named in a will as executor of an estate, and aren't sure how to meet your responsibilities, or where to begin, it would be a good idea to consult with an experienced Taos, New Mexico lawyer who can help you navigate this sometimes-complicated process.