Isleta Tribal Probate Process

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What is Probate?

A probate case begins when a petition is filed to “probate the estate” of the decedent (person who died).  In some cases the decedent leaves a will (testate) and in others the decedent dies without a will (intestate).  Probate is the process for distributing the property of a decedent to the rightful heirs in intestate matters or the process for determining whether a will was validly executed in testate matters.  

The probate process does not have to be lengthy but takes as long as necessary for the Administrator to complete the required duties.  An initial hearing is scheduled within thirty (30) days of filing the petition.  At the first hearing the judge appoints an Administrator or determines who is named in the will to serve as Administrator or Executor.  The judge also gives the Administrator a probate packet and explains the forms that must be completed.  The second hearing is scheduled about sixty (60) days later to review the status of the probate matter.  Review hearings are scheduled every thirty (30) days until all requirements are met.  The process may take longer in intestate cases if parties cannot agree on distribution of the property or in testate cases if a party contests the validity of the will.  The Court issues a final order when the Administrator’s duties are complete, all documents have been submitted and decedent’s property is distributed.


Duties of the Administrator of the Estate

The Administrator is responsible for managing and settling the decedent’s affairs however does not have authority to decide how property is distributed.  The Administrator of the Estate is responsible for conducting a thorough search of the decedent’s personal papers for evidence of potential creditors; examining the decedent’s checkbook and check register for recurring payments to determine existing debt; contacting the issuer of credit cards decedent had in his or her possession at the time of his or her death; and contacting all parties who provided medical care, treatment, or assistance to the decedent prior to his or her death.  The Administrator is also legally responsible for filing necessary income tax returns (federal and state) and can be held personally liable for unpaid taxes of the estate.