Albuquerque Estate Lawyers Assist With Creating and Updating Wills

Clear, unambiguous drafting to ensure your intentions are carried out

Every adult should have a last will and testament to provide instructions on the distribution of their property after their passing. If you don’t draft a valid will, your property will be transferred to family members according to New Mexico’s intestacy laws. Thus, you lose control over what happens to your assets, and some people who are dear to you could be totally excluded. At Hurley, Toevs, Styles, Hamblin & Panter, P.A. in Albuquerque, our estate planning lawyers draft clear, legally enforceable wills to ensure that our clients’ wishes are honored. We strive for accuracy and completeness as we develop a document that reflects your true intentions. 

Types of wills In New Mexico

New Mexico recognizes several types of wills: 

  • Standard will — A last will and testament is a document that instructs the probate court as to how you want your property distributed after your passing. In some cases, estate proceeds are used to create a testamentary trust that allows the testator to set conditions regarding the transfer of assets to beneficiaries. 
  • Joint will — Also called a mutual will, this document governs the way married couples dispose of their assets. Testators should be aware that a joint will imposes restrictions on the way a surviving spouse can treat property named in the document.
  • Living will — Technically, a living will is not a will as it all as does not distribute a decedent’s property. Rather, it is a healthcare directive setting forth what extraordinary medical measures, if any, you want taken if your condition is terminal.   

For a last will and testament to be valid in New Mexico, these elements must be present:

  • Testator at least 18 years of age or an emancipated minor
  • Testator of sound mind
  • Written instrument on actual paper (no digital files)
  • Signed by testator in the presence of two witnesses who then sign in the presence of the testator

A testator can invalidate an existing will by destroying the physical document or executing a new will that supersedes the previous will.

Wills versus trusts in estate plans

While many opt for an estate planning strategy that utilizes one or more trusts, that does not eliminate the need for a will. Key benefits of trusts are that they allow you to place conditions on the distribution of assets and enable beneficiaries to collect their property while avoiding probate. However, you might not want to place all of your assets in a trust, or you might have plans to allocate some of your property to beneficiaries not named in the trust. A will allows you to account for any property you have not placed in the trust, including assets you have overlooked or acquired after settling your trust.

Experienced estate lawyers draft, review and revise wills

To be effective, a will must be detailed, precise and complete. Items left out of your will can result in partial intestacy, a situation where certain property must pass to family members based on New Mexico’s inheritance laws. Vague and ambiguous terms can make a will impossible to execute, which would also lead to partial or total intestacy rather than distribution according to the testator’s intent. Our estate planning attorneys have the knowledge, skill and experience to draft clear, concise and comprehensive wills that stand up to court scrutiny. Once you have completed your will, it’s a good idea to review it every few years to ensure it still reflects your intentions. If your circumstances have changed, due to divorce, the death of a beneficiary or a financial shift, you should amend your will to bring it up to date.

Contact our Albuquerque estate planning attorneys to schedule a will consultation

Hurley, Toevs, Styles, Hamblin & Panter, P.A. in Albuquerque drafts and executes wills for clients throughout New Mexico. To make an appointment to discuss your estate planning goals with an experienced lawyer, please call 505-888-1188 or contact us online.