The act of starting estate planning in New Mexico is the first step towards protecting your family in the event of your loss. Without estate planning you run the risk of leaving your family in a difficult financial situation if the court is required to intervene. Planning how to manage or dispose of your assets does not need to be difficult or time consuming.
All accounts you own will become a matter of public record if you pass away or become incapacitated. Even though you might want to keep certain assets hidden during your lifetime it is important that you keep them all well managed and in good order. The last thing a grieving family wants to do is dig through paperwork and account information struggling to find beneficiaries or determining how you wanted your assets disposed of.
Be sure to name beneficiaries for all of your accounts. This includes bank accounts and retirement accounts. By taking the time to provide your bank with this information you will ensure smooth transfers and avoid confusion. Many people make the mistake of only naming beneficiaries to their life insurance policies causing confusion to survivors who are not always sure what the deceased intended to do with these accounts.
Estate planning in New Mexico includes planning for serious illness or incapacitation. If you do not make preparations for situations where you cannot make decisions for yourself you run the risk of having your assets disposed of in a way that you do not approve of. Obtain a durable power of attorney and appoint an agent who will manage all of your assets until you recover. This agent should be informed of all financial decisions and the status of any real estate properties or business ventures.
New Mexico law automatically awards the majority of an estate to blood heirs if there is no will found. This means children will receive three-fourths of all separate property and one-half of all community property. When there are no children the property will then go to parents. If you do not take the time to create a will that specifies what you wish left to a spouse disaster could ensue.
Make sure any homes that are owned jointly or that were purchased before marriage are left to the surviving spouse. If this is not specified a surviving spouse could suddenly find themselves living in a home co-owned by a step-child or mother in-law. Also, specify in clear language what community property and separate property you want left to your spouse and which properties should be given to children.