Darryl Cases is Socorro County's elected probate judge. He is serving his second term through 2022.
The probate judge is a part-time position in Socorro County.
Probate courts for each county in the state were established by the New Mexico Constitution, Article VI, Section 23. That constitutional section gives the New Mexico Legislature power to define the jurisdiction of the probate courts within the scope of the constitution.
200 Church Street
Socorro, NM 87801
State law limits the jurisdiction of the Probate Courts to uncontested informal (with no hearings) proceedings to:
Admitting wills to probate
Appointing personal representatives
Appointing special administrators
State law also allows probate judges to perform marriages within their county only.
A probate proceeding can be filed in the Socorro County Probate Court if:
The decedent was domiciled in Socorro County at the time of death (i.e., Socorro County was the permanent place of the decedent's abode), or
The decedent lived outside of New Mexico but owned property in Socorro County.
The probate court also provides general information about the probate process, access to and information about probate files (searches), and information about the court history.
The probate court staff can give general information about probate procedure and law but cannot give legal advice or discuss specific issues regarding cases.
Not every estate requires a probate proceeding. It often depends on how the decedent's assets were titled or whether someone needs other legal authority to act on behalf of the estate. Examples of matters that may need a probate proceeding include, but are not limited to:
Changing title to real property or personal property, such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, etc.
Dealing with creditors
Obtaining medical or other protected records
Filing taxes, when necessary
Normally, a probate must be filed within three years following the decedent's death. Under New Mexico law no appointment of a personal representative may be made during the first 120 hours (five days) following the death.
After a probate has been filed, it needs to be kept open until all creditors receive notice, claims are resolved, taxes are paid, and estate assets are distributed. Once the probate is closed, the personal representative no long has authority to act on behalf of the estate.
Payment of a docket fee in the amount of $30 is required at the time a probate is filed. The court charges $ .50 per page for copies. The fee to have a document certified is $ .50 per document. The court accepts cash, credit cards, checks, money orders or cashier's checks.
Opening a Probate Case
The Application and Acceptance must be signed in the presence of a notary public prior to submission to the court.
The Applicant is swearing that the statements made in these documents are complete, accurate, and truthful to the best of his/her knowledge.
Submit an original death certificate and the Application, Order, Acceptance and Letters Testamentary/Letters of Administration.
Submit at least one set of copies for the court to endorse stamp (the court keeps the original documents submitted to the court) or a fee for copies. Copies of pleadings should be placed behind the original of each document).
Submit a self-addressed stamped envelope if he/she would like the copies mailed back.
The court will review the documents before docketing the case to make sure there are no problems. Once the case is docketed, we cannot make any refunds.
After the judge signs the order appointing the personal representative, the court issues Letters Testamentary (when there is a will) or Letters of Administration (where there is no will). The letters give personal representatives the legal authority to conduct the decedent's estate business. See our Duties of the Personal Representative Brochure for further information/
Probate cases can be filed with or without the help of an attorney (pro se). Do-it-yourself forms are available for purchase from the court for $5.
A sample fill-in-the-blank application is available on the probate court website, but you must also go to the link for the Supreme Court forms in order to download the rest of the required forms.
Occasionally, after realizing the amount of paperwork, time and responsibility involved, people will hire an attorney. We encourage people to obtain competent legal services. The court can provide information, but not legal advice.