First District Court Judge Sylvia LaMar administers the oath of office to Probate Judge Christine Chandler with her husband George Chandler holding her new robe Monday afternoon in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building in downtown Los Alamos. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Newly sworn Probate Judge Christine Chandler is applauded by First District Court Judge Sylvia LaMar and husband George Chandler along with a roomful of County officials, community members and friends who attended Monday’s ceeremony. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Probate Judge Christine Chandler with First District Court Judge Sylvia LaMar signing official documents following Monday’s swearing in ceremony. Photo by Carol A. Clarkladailypost.com
First District Court Judge Sylvia LaMar administered the oath of office to newly appointed Probate Judge Christine Chandler during a special ceremony Monday afternoon in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building in downtown Los Alamos.
As Probate Judge, Chandler will examine applications for probate of estate, appointment of personal representative, wills and documents filed in the case, sign orders of appointment of personal representatives and certificates closing estates. She also will supply sample forms and copies of applicable law to the public, answer questions regarding probate procedures, and perform marriage ceremonies.
Probate is the judicial process for transferring the property of a person who has died (called decedent.) The property is transferred according to either: (1) the decedent’s Will, or (2) if the decedent dies without a Will, according to New Mexico’s laws of intestate succession. The Probate Court appoints legally qualified persons, called Personal Representatives, to manage and settle the decedent’s business affairs. Personal representatives pass the deceased person’s estate property, real and personal, to the rightful recipients. Rightful Recipients might include heirs, devisees named in a valid and current will, or creditors.
Probate Court Information
State law limits the jurisdiction of the Probate Courts to:
- Admitting Wills to Informal Probate
- Appointing Personal Representatives informally (without a hearing)
- Appointing Special Administrators for Estates
- Issuing Certificates of Full Administration of the Estate
- State law also allows Probate Judges to perform marriages within their county only
No matter when or where a Will was originally made, you would use the Los Alamos County Probate Court if:
- The decedent was domiciled in Los Alamos County at the time of death (i.e., Los Alamos County was the permanent place of decedent’s abode), or,
- The decedent lived outside New Mexico but owned property in Los Alamos County
Formal probates, determinations of heirship, contested cases, and trust matters cannot be heard by the Probate Court, but instead must be filed in the District Court.
In addition to handling informal probate cases, the Probate court provides general information on process (how to file), record (what is on file), title searches and information about court history.
Not all estates require a probate or a personal representative. Much depends on how the decedent’s property was titled. But when a probate is necessary, the person seeking appointment as Personal Representative applies to the Probate Court (or the District court) to obtain authority to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate
Normally, a probate must be filed within three years following the decedent’s death. New Mexico law says that no probate may be filed during the first 120 hours (5 days) following the death. Once a probate case is filed it should be kept open until all creditors receive notice, make claims, taxes are paid and estate assets are distributed. Once the probate is closed, the Personal Representative no longer has authority to act for the Estate.
The docket fee to file for informal probate in the Probate Court is $30. Certification of filed documents is $1 per document. To have files copied by the Court, the fee is 10 cents per copy per page.
Opening a Probate Case
Estate papers (called pleadings), the original Will, if any, and proper payment are presented together to the Court for review and appointment of the personal representative and/or probate of the Will, if any. The initial Application must be signed by the applicant in the presence of a notary public and should include an original Death Certificate. Applicants must submit complete, accurate and truthful pleadings to the Court.
Searching Probate Records:
To view Probate record index information, visit Online Records Website.
Probate Judge Christine Chandler receives flowers from friends Linda Hull, left, and Anne Nobile. Photo by Carol A. Clarkladailypost.com
Chatting after the ceremony. Photo by Carol A. Clarkladailypost.com
Audience members watch the ceremony. Photo by Carol A. Clarkladailypost.com
Former County Attorney Mary McInierny, left foreground, Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados and, second row from left, Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard and JJAB Co-Coordinator Sharon Marinuzzi at Monday’s swearing in ceremony. Photo by Carol A. Clarkladailypost.com
County Administrator Harry Burgess, former County Councilor Mike Wismer and Deputy County Administrator Brian Bosshardt chat after Monday’s ceremony. Photo by Carol A. Clarkladailypost.com
Probate Judge Christine Chandler, center, gathers with new colleagues in the County Clerk’s office where her office is housed. From left, Chief Deputy Clerk Sheryl Nichols, Bureau of Elections Manager Gloria Maestas, Chandler, County Clerk Sharon Stover and Deputy Clerk Naomi Maestas. The Clerk and staff serve as clerks to the Probate Court. Photo by Carol A. Clarkladailypost.com
Probate Judge Christine Chandler in her new office inside the County Clerk’s Office in the Municipal Building following Monday’s swearing in ceremony. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com