Counsel & Advice From Top New Mexico Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney

Deming, NM Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning encompasses various legal strategies, including wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, and health care documents. Many new clients are under the impression that they don’t have an estate plan, but in reality, they already have one. In the absence of specific legal planning, New Mexico’s laws of intestacy govern the distribution of their estate after their passing. However, this may not align with their desired plan. By working with an experienced estate planning lawyer, you can create a properly drafted estate plan that supersedes the state’s default provisions. Take the first step and begin the process of creating your own estate plan with the assistance of a qualified estate planning lawyer.

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Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is just one component of a comprehensive estate plan. When a person dies without a will, referred to as dying “intestate,” state laws determine how and to whom their assets will be distributed. Key points to consider about wills include:

A will only becomes legally effective after death and does not assist in managing a person’s affairs during incapacitation caused by illness or injury.

A will does not enable an estate to bypass probate. Instead, it serves as the legal document submitted to the probate court, essentially acting as an “admission ticket” to the probate process.

Nominating guardians (or backup parents) for minor children in a will is crucial. All parents of minor children should document their choice of guardians to avoid potential family conflicts and ensure their children are placed under the care of appropriate guardians.

Trusts: Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, etc.

Trusts come in various forms and can be simple or complex, serving different legal, personal, investment, or tax planning purposes. At its core, a trust is a legal entity involving at least three parties: the trust-maker, the trustee (trust manager), and the trust beneficiary. In many cases, one person or a married couple represents all three parties. For instance, with a revocable living trust, an individual may create a trust (the trust-maker) and appoint themselves as the current trustee (trust manager) to administer trust assets for their own benefit (trust beneficiary).

Establishing a trust can offer numerous advantages, such as avoiding probate court. Assets held in a revocable living trust usually pass directly to the trust beneficiaries or heirs upon the trust-maker’s death, bypassing probate. Certain trusts may also provide tax benefits for both the trust-maker and beneficiary, protect assets from creditors, or allow for the management and investment of property on behalf of the trust-maker(s) and named beneficiaries. Well-drafted trusts remain effective even if the trust-maker dies or becomes incapacitated. Consult our estate planning lawyers to determine if establishing a trust would be beneficial for you and your family.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that grants another person (the attorney-in-fact) the authority to act on your behalf for specific matters. The scope of powers granted depends on the terms outlined in the document, which can range from broad to limited and specific. Powers of attorney terminate upon the maker’s death and may also end if the maker (principal) becomes incapacitated. To designate a backup decision-maker in case of incapacity, a durable power of attorney is recommended. It’s important to regularly update durable powers of attorney as financial institutions may hesitate to honor documents that are over a year old.

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