After you die, sometimes it becomes necessary for a court to oversee the distribution of your assets. That’s where probate comes in. Probate is a process for determining heirs, paying creditors, and distributing assets. You can’t avoid probate with a will. Any contractual asset (bound by contract) payable to the estate of the owner must go through probate court. Probate only applies to individual or jointly owned property.
Probate laws dealing with the amount of assets an estate must have to be subject to probate differ by state. New Mexico has simplified rules for what are defined as “small estates.” For an estate going through a regular probate process, typically after a death, the estate personal representative will file the will with the court, which will determine its validity. If you die without a will, a personal representative will file a petition with the court. Then the court appoints an administrator, usually the nearest relative of the deceased. Notices of probate proceedings are published in the local newspaper to alert anyone with claims against the estate to file them.