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New Mexico Wills Laws

Whether from books or movies, we may have some preconceived notions about what a last will and testament can do. Whether bequeathing family heirlooms or instructing heirs on how the family business should be run, there are all kinds of things that we imagine wills can do. But how do they actually function, legally? And how does the Land of Enchantment determine who can pass on what, and to whom? This is a brief overview of wills laws in New Mexico.

Wills, Generally

A will is a legally binding document that sets forth what should happen to an individual's property after he or she dies. For example, a person's will could demand that her art collection should pass on to her granddaughter, or that her farm be preserved as a wildlife refuge. States craft their wills laws differently, especially when it comes to oral or handwritten wills. For example, neither oral nor handwritten testaments are recognized as legally valid under New Mexico law.

Wills Laws in New Mexico

New Mexico's will statutes are highlighted below.

Code Section

New Mexico Statutes 45-2-501, et seq.: Wills

Age of Testator

Anyone who is 18 yrs. of age or older and of sound mind

Number of Witnesses

Must be signed by at least two individuals each of whom must sign in presence of testator and each other after each witnessed the signing of the will

New Mexico Statutes 45-2-502: Execution; Witnessed Wills

Nuncupative (Oral Wills)

Not recognized

Holographic Wills

Not recognized

Understanding Wills

At first, some of the “legalese” used in New Mexico estate planning laws can seem a little confusing. The “testator” is the person whose after-death wishes are listed in the will. A “nuncupative” will is an oral, spoken, or otherwise unwritten will. Normally, nuncupative wills can only cover a limited amount of personal property, but these are not legally recognized in New Mexico. And a “holographic” will is handwritten, generally subjected to more scrutiny than a typed or printed will, and also not acknowledged in New Mexico.

More Resources for New Mexico Wills Laws

With state wills and probate laws as confusing as they are, it can be difficult to create a will and have it accomplish exactly what you want it to. For additional articles and resources on this topic, including creating and changing a will, you can visit FindLaw’s section on Wills. If you would like legal assistance with creating or interpreting a will, or another probate matter, you can consult with a New Mexico wills attorney.

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