How a New Mexico estate plan helps fulfill your final wishes

Estate planning is an abstract concept for many people. They may vaguely understand what a will or trust is, but might not have much of a frame of reference otherwise. They also might be under the misconception that, if they aren't wealthy themselves, they don't need an estate plan. That sort of thinking is a mistake, though. The simple truth is that everyone in New Mexico - and across the country - can likely benefit from a comprehensive estate plan tailored for their individual circumstances.

Not a "one size fits all" proposition

In order for estate planning to be its most effective, it should be:

  • Customized to encompass a true understanding of the person's last wishes (in legal terms, the person whose assets are the subject of the will is known as the "testator")
  • Based on accurate information about the testator's estate
  • Inclusive, covering such issues as distribution of assets upon the testator's death and conveying his or her wishes for end-of-life medical care, funeral preferences and other important issues
  • Drafted, witnessed and filed pursuant to relevant state laws (see Chapter 45, Article 2A of the New Mexico Statutes to learn more)

Don't let the state end up with your assets

If your will, trust or other estate planning documents don't meet these criteria, there is a chance that your wishes won't be followed. Should that be the case, then your loved ones could find themselves at the mercy of what some have described as "antiquated" intestacy laws.

Intestate secession laws - found in Chapter 45, Article 2 of the New Mexico Statutes - are a statutory guide to set forth how estate assets should be handled if someone dies without a will, the will doesn't meet required legal parameters or if a will has been declared invalid through a will contest. Generally, in that situation, the bulk of the assets will pass to a surviving spouse, to children, and then on to other family members, in that order. If there are no blood relatives, a situation referred to in the law as "no takers," property will revert to the state.

Let this be a lesson: if you wish for assets to be given to a friend, colleague, charitable organization, pet, school, medical institution or other person that you aren't related to, you definitely need a valid estate plan in order for that to happen. Otherwise, your hard-earned money could end up as part of the state's treasury instead.

Buyer beware!

One of the great things about humanity is our individuality. We are all different from one another, and can disagree on everything from favorite condiments to preferred car model. These minor disagreements are typical, and there are some things on which a little "wiggle room" is a good idea. Estate planning isn't one of them. Using a boilerplate form or cheap will package found on the Internet simply won't yield the same level of results that a lawyer can achieve. Yes, these might work occasionally, but they certainly don't match the level of customization, skill and protection you would find by consulting an experienced estate planning attorney like those at Mucci Law.