Should we file for Successor of Interest or Appointment of Personal Representative?

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Should we file for Successor of Interest or Appointment of Personal Representative?

Before my father passed away, he let it be known that he wanted his wife and children to share in inheritance of his estate; however, there is no will. We are concerned that our mother will not honor our dad’s wishes and will not use good judgement with regard to the property (a non-joint bank account, ranch land). As I understand it, if our mother submits a claim for Successor of Interest, she will be able to do as she pleases with the assets. If one of his children can be named as a Personal Rep, it would allow us to decide as a group what’s in the best interest of the family. What should we do?

Asked on March 31, 2011 under Estate Planning, New Mexico

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  I think that the best thing that you can do at this point in time is to go and speak with an attorney in your area on the matter.  It is my understanding that New Mexico has a "short cut" so to speak, for assets that have been left without a beneficiary and that are in the amount of $30,000 or less.  In this case an "affidavit of successor in interest" would transfer ownership without a court probate. This law applies to bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mobile homes, cars, and other personal property, but does notapply to land, houses, or other real property.  So the ranch land you spoke of above must go through probate.  You have not stated how much was in the bank account but the decision here on what to so is based on far more than the amount in the account.  What is your Mother's financial status here?  What is the account? Really a joint account?  Seek legal help.  Good luck.


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