Losing a loved one is a devastating and distressing ordeal for anyone to go through.

It can be even more stressful if an individual was named as the personal representative of their loved one’s estate. On top of their grief, they also worry about how they will approach the probate process.

In some cases, a loved one’s estate might not have to go through the full probate process. If the estate is small enough, families might be able to pursue a simpler probate process – or they can skip probate altogether – under the small estate law.

Families have two options. And the option they use generally depends on the circumstances and value of the estate.

1. Summary administration, or simplified probate

A summary administration still requires probate, but it is a much simpler procedure than the regular probate process.

To pursue this option, the total value of the estate cannot exceed:

  • The family allowance determined under law, which is $30,000;
  • New Mexico’s personal property allowance, which is $15,000; or
  • The costs of administering the estate, which can vary.

The personal representative must still take an inventory of their loved one’s estate and value the property accurately. However, then they can file a request for a summary administration and pursue simplified probate if the estate meets the above conditions.

2. A small estate affidavit

The small estate law also allows families to claim and collect property using a small estate affidavit. This option might not require probate at all.

The estate must meet certain conditions for families to use the affidavit, including:

  • The value of the estate is $50,000 or less;
  • 30 days passed since their loved one’s passing; and
  • The loved one’s will entitles them to receive assets.

Even though the small estate law allows some families to pursue a simplified probate process, pursuing either of these options can still be complex. It might be beneficial to consult an experienced probate attorney to determine if the estate qualifies under New Mexico law. However, these options can reduce the time, cost and stress of this process for the family during this time.