Duties of the Personal Representative

This is an overview guide concerning the duties of the Personal Representative (also known as an “Executor”, an “executrix” or an “administrator”) in a will; of an estate. Selected deadlines that you will need to meet are also shown here and in the instructions forms when filling out “With Will” or “Without Will” forms. Feel free to check off tasks as you complete them. PLEASE READ PROBATE FORMS AND PROBATE FORM INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY!
**You may run into other issues that require the services of an attorney.**

Under 1B-302(D) NMRA, General Instruction for probate forms: The probate court clerks are NOT lawyers and CANNOT give you advice on how to fill out the forms OR give you advice on the issues that the forms do not address. The judge CANNOT and will NOT give you advice about how to complete the probate. When you act as a self-represented person, you are your own lawyer.

Personal Representative Applies for Appointment

Probate forms are available at www.nmcourts.gov/forms.aspx OR Sandoval County Probate Judge homepage under Probate Forms With Will and/or Probate Forms Without Will and/or Other probate Forms.

Application Must Include:

  • Your name and relationship to the deceased person (also called the “decedent”);
  • Statement of domicile (primary residence of person at the time of their death);
  • Names and addresses (including yourself) of surviving:

1) Spouse;
2) Children;
3) Other Heirs; and
4) Devisees (named in the will, if a will exists, including churches, schools, etc.)
* Ages of any minor children of the deceased person.

  • Do not list alternate beneficiaries (who would inherit if the first-named beneficiaries have died) unless a primary beneficiary has died.
  • Date of Decedent’s Death
  • Age of Decedent at time of death
  • Concurrence of anyone with equal or higher priority for appointment as personal representative
  • Full Signature of Applicant
  • Name, Full Address and Phone # of Applicant
  • You must sign and date this form and affirm in writing under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of New Mexico that the statements are true and correct.
  • Original Death Certificate is recommended OR *(certified copy ) if the Judge approves to send a certified copy.*
  • Original Will (if any)
  • Order of Informal Probate of will and appointment of personal representative (will) and/or of Order of informal appointment of personal representative
  • Signed; name, full address and telephone number
  • Acceptance of appointment as personal representative (no will) (will)
  • You must sign and date this form and affirm in writing under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of New Mexico that the statements are true and correct.
  • Letters Testamentary (will) or Letters of Administration (no will)
You’ve been appointed by the court, now what?
  • Within thirty (30) days once the judge has appointed you as Personal Representative you must send out Form 4B-401 NMRA: (read form instructions)
  • Notice to the Heirs and decedent (and any person who has filed a demanded for notice) **Read form instructions carefully*
Proof of Notice (Required)
  • Lists the Heirs and Devisees who received above Notice and/or People who have demanded notice. (Read Form 4b-402 and Form instructions carefully)
  • Must be filed with the Court.
Within three months of appointment (required):
  • Notice to Creditors by publication and notice to creditors by written notice (mailing or other delivery) (required) see form 4B-501 NMRA and Carefully read the Instructions for this form.
  • Notice by Publication *(Read form Instructions)*
  • Used to notify any unknown creditors of the probate of the estate.
  • If used, must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in county. In Sandoval County, you may use either the Rio Rancho Observer or Albuquerque Journal.
  • If used, must be published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a row.
  • Creditors have One (1) year from the date of the decedent’s death to submit a claim unless you publish notice in a newspaper. IF you publish notice in the newspaper the time period is shorten from one (1) year after death to four (4) months after the first day you publish notice. (see form 4B-501 NMRA and Carefully read the Instructions/steps for this form.)
  • Notice by Publication *(Read Instructions)*

Affidavit of Publication

  • Is received from the newspaper that published the Notice to Creditors
  • Original Copy should be filed with the Court as Proof of Publication.
Claims Against the Estate

Once you receive a claim against the estate, you are responsible for determining whether it is a valid claim. *IMPORTANT*: Carefully Read Form 4B-501 and/or Instructions for this Form.

  • Claims that have not been presented within one (1) year of the decedent’s death shall not be paid.

You should pay valid claims out of the assets of the estate or make other arrangements to do so.

Within ninety (90) days of appointment (required): Form 4B-601 Please read instruction/steps for this form.

  • Prepare an Inventory, meaning gather, value, and list the assets of the estate, and determine the debts of the estate
  • Include reasonable detail and estimated value.
  • You can hire an appraiser, but are not required to do so.
  • You must mail the inventory to interested people who request it
  • Unless ordered by the court to file this document, you are not required to do so, and you are free to keep the information private an out of the public record.
Distributing the Estate Assets

Priority for Distribution of Assets of the Estate

Once the personal representative pays the New Mexico family and personal property allowances due (if any), federal and state income and estate taxes (if required), and other bills, he or she can distribute the estate assets. The personal representative must follow the provisions of the Will, if any, or intestate laws, if no Will exists.


THESE STEPS ARE AT THE HEART OF THE PROBATE PROCESS, AND YOU SHOULD ENSURE THAT THEY ARE PROPERLY COMPLETED. In doing so, you should seriously consider consulting with a lawyer knowledgeable in the probate process or check our local library for available resources. **Also these steps/information are on our Probate General Instructions**


  • Distribute the family and personal property allowance
  • Distribute the family allowance
  • Distribute the personal property allowance
  • Pay costs and expenses of administration
  • Pay remaining claims and debts of the estate, including all taxes
  • Disputing debts
  • Exception to requirement to pay debts
  • Distribute the remaining assets of the estate to the decedent’s heirs
  • Close the estate and probate action

Any real property transferred by the Personal Representative of the estate is done in his/her capacity as Personal Representative of the estate (see separate brochure on Real Property).

Preparing the Accounting of the Estate
  • Keep records of all receipts and disbursements of the estate.
  • The accounting lists the value and distribution of the estate assets.
  • You are not required to file this document with the Court.
  • You must provide a copy of this document to those who received the estate assets.
Closing a Probate Case

Verified Statement of Personal Representative (notarization required)

  • It has been at least six (6) months since you opened the estate.
  • The time for filing claims against the estate has expired.
  • You have paid or otherwise resolved all claims against the estate and paid all taxes.
  • All assets of the estate have been distributed to those entitled to them.
  • The estate is ready to be closed.
  • A year after the filing of the verified statement, the estate is considered closed.
Other Possible Tasks

The personal representative may also have to do some or all of the following tasks:

  • Arrange for burial or cremation of decedent.
  • Give USPS change-of-address form. Cancel decedent’s credit cards.
  • Notify Social Security & Medicare, if applicable, of the death.
  • Clean out closets, sheds, garage, etc. of decedent and hold estate sale, if necessary.
  • Obtain taxpayer ID number for estate. Open bank account in name of estate, using this taxpayer ID number. Do not use your own social security number on this account.
  • File decedent’s final federal and state income tax returns, if necessary.
  • File federal/state estate tax returns if estate exceeds $5,430,000 (consult tax attorney).
  • File decedent’s income tax return for estate, IRS Form 1041, if estate earns more than $600 gross income in a year.
  • Other tasks, as needed.