2023 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 45 - Uniform Probate Code
Article 3 - Probate of Wills and Administration
Part 4 - FORMAL TESTACY AND APPOINTMENT PROCEEDINGS
Section 45-3-412 - Formal testacy proceedings; effect of order; vacation.

Universal Citation: NM Stat § 45-3-412 (2023)

A. Subject to appeal and subject to vacation as provided in this section and in Section 45-3-413 NMSA 1978, a formal testacy order under Sections 45-3-409 through 45-3-411 NMSA 1978, including an order that the decedent left no valid will and determining heirs, is final as to all persons with respect to all issues concerning the decedent's estate that the court considered or might have considered incident to its rendition relevant to the question of whether the decedent left a valid will and to the determination of heirs, except that:

(1) the court shall entertain a petition for modification or vacation of its order and probate of another will of the decedent if it is shown that the proponents of the later-offered will were unaware of:

(a) its existence at the time of the earlier proceeding; or

(b) the earlier proceeding and were given no notice thereof except by publication;

(2) if intestacy of all or part of the estate has been ordered, the determination of heirs of the decedent may be reconsidered if it is shown that one or more persons were omitted from the determination and it is also shown that the persons were:

(a) unaware of their relationship to the decedent;

(b) were unaware of his death; or

(c) were given no notice of any proceeding concerning his estate except by publication;

(3) a petition for vacation under either Paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection shall be filed prior to the earliest of the following time limits:

(a) if a personal representative has been appointed for the estate, the time of entry of any order approving final distribution of the estate or, if the estate is closed by statement, six months after the filing of the closing statement;

(b) whether or not a personal representative has been appointed for the estate of the decedent, the time prescribed by Section 45-3-108 NMSA 1978 when it is no longer possible to initiate an original proceeding to probate a will of the decedent; or

(c) twelve months after the entry of the order sought to be vacated;

(4) the order originally rendered in the testacy proceeding may be modified or vacated, if appropriate under the circumstances, by the order of probate of the later-offered will or the order redetermining heirs; and

(5) the finding of the fact of death is conclusive as to the alleged decedent only if notice of the hearing on the petition in the formal testacy proceeding was sent by registered or certified mail addressed to the alleged decedent at his last known address and the court finds that a search under Subsection C of Section 45-3-403 NMSA 1978 was made.

B. If the alleged decedent is not dead, even if notice was sent and search was made, he may recover estate assets in the hands of the personal representative. In addition to any remedies available to the alleged decedent by reason of any fraud or intentional wrongdoing, the alleged decedent may recover any estate or its proceeds from distributees that is in their hands or the value of distributions received by them to the extent that any recovery from distributees is equitable in view of all of the circumstances.

History: 1953 Comp., § 32A-3-412, enacted by Laws 1975, ch. 257, § 3-412; 1995, ch. 210, § 35.

ANNOTATIONS

Official comments.See Commissioners on Uniform State Law official comment to 3-412 UPC.

The 1995 amendment, effective July 1, 1995, in Subsection A, substituted "Section 45-3-413 NMSA 1978" for "Section 3-413" and substituted "Sections 45-3-409 through 45-3-411 NMSA 1978" for "Sections 3-409 through 3-411" in the introductory paragraph; substituted "shall be filed" for "must be filed" in the introductory paragraph of Paragraph (3); substituted "Section 45-3-108 NMSA 1978" for "Section 3-108" in Subparagraph (3)(b); substituted "Section 45-3-403 NMSA 1978" for "Section 3-403" in Paragraph (5); and made minor stylistic changes.

Knowledge of later-offered will. — Insofar as a party who had knowledge of the contents of a later-offered will reasonably believed that will to have been destroyed as of the time of the decedent's death, she was entitled to relief. Pidcock v. Apodaca, 2001-NMCA-037, 130 N.M. 460, 26 P.3d 764, cert. denied, 130 N.M. 484, 27 P.3d 476.

Bona fide purchaser. — A bona fide purchaser is a party that has acquired property for valuable consideration in good faith without notice of defects in the chain of title to the property, including adverse rights or claims of other parties. Premier Oil & Gas v. Welch, 2023-NMSC-017, aff'g 2021-NMCA-028, 493 P.3d 400.

Extrinsic evidence of lack of jurisdiction cannot overcome the rights of a bona fide purchaser. — In a longstanding dispute over the ownership of mineral rights which were owned by Mr. and Mrs. Welch in the 1970s, where the Welches executed a joint will in 1974 listing each other and their family members as heirs, and, when Mr. Welch died in 1975 and his estate was probated, the mineral rights were transferred in their entirety to Mrs. Welch, and where Mrs. Welch, in 1980, executed a new will which was given to her cousin, who failed to come forward with the will when Mrs. Welch died in 1988, resulting in an almost twenty-year delay in probating Mrs. Welch's estate until plaintiff filed a petition in 2007 to determine heirship for Mrs. Welch's estate, and where the district court issued a final judgment, finding that Mrs. Welch died intestate and that plaintiff was her sole heir, and awarding title to the minerals to plaintiff, and where plaintiff eventually sold the mineral rights to a corporation which leased the mineral rights and then sold the leasehold to an oil and gas company, and where, in 2012, Mrs. Welch's cousin filed a petition for formal probate of the 1980 will, and where, in this probate proceeding, the oil and gas company sought to quiet title to the mineral rights, claiming that its ownership of the minerals was protected under the doctrine of bona fide purchaser, and where intervenors, heirs to the original owner of the mineral rights, counterclaimed, asserting an interest in the minerals through the original owner's estate, and where the district court granted a motion for summary judgment finding that plaintiff was the sole heir of the estate, that the oil and gas company was a bona fide purchaser of the mineral rights, and that intervenors claims were barred by the provisions of the probate code, by statutes of limitation, and by various equitable doctrines, the district court did not err in concluding that the oil and gas company was a bona fide purchaser, because although plaintiff failed to give notice to interested parties in the 2007 heirship proceeding, creating a jurisdictional deficiency, the 2007 judgment was not facially void and therefore the oil and gas company was entitled to rely on the 2007 judgment and was entitled to bona fide purchaser status. Intervenors were not entitled to rely on the 1974 will or the 1980 will as evidence that the 2007 judgment was erroneous, because extrinsic evidence of lack of jurisdiction is inadmissible to overcome the rights of a bona fide purchaser. Premier Oil & Gas v. Welch, 2023-NMSC-017, aff'g 2021-NMCA-028, 493 P.3d 400.

Bona fide purchaser of mineral rights. — In a longstanding dispute over ownership of mineral rights following the 1988 death of the sole beneficiary of the mineral rights, where, following a 1975 probate proceeding in which the district court found decedent to be the sole heir, devisee, legatee, and interested party with respect to a 1974 will that decedent and her husband executed and a 2007 heirship proceeding in which the district court determined heirship to the decedent and awarded title of the mineral rights to plaintiff, an heir of decedent, who eventually sold the mineral rights to an oil and gas company, and where intervenors claimed that the 1974 will devised vested future interests in the mineral rights to their predecessors in title, and where, following a remand from the New Mexico court of appeals, the district court granted a motion for summary judgment quieting title in favor of plaintiff and the oil and gas company, the district court erred in granting plaintiff's motion for summary judgment because plaintiff did not exercise reasonable diligence in attempting to identify and give notice to potential interested parties prior to the 2007 heirship proceeding, rendering the 2007 heirship proceeding void; the district court, however, did not err in concluding that the oil and gas company was a bona fide purchaser, based on the evidence that no person had ever challenged the validity of the 2007 heirship proceeding and therefore the oil and gas company had no notice of title defects in the minerals that it purchased. Premier Oil & Gas, Inc. v. Welch, 2021-NMCA-028, cert granted.

Rule not inconsistent with section. — The provisions of Rule 60(b)(1), N.M.R. Civ. P. (now Rule 1-060B(1) NMRA), which provide for relief for mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect, are not inconsistent with the grounds for relief stated in this section. Mathieson v. Hubler, 1978-NMCA-119, 92 N.M. 381, 588 P.2d 1056, cert. denied, 92 N.M. 353, 588 P.2d 554.

Triggering of twelve-month time limit. — Amended order issued under Rule 1-060(A) NMRA to correct clerical orders in the original probate order did not vacate the original order; as a result, the twelve-month time limit in Subparagraph A(3)(c) for challenging the court's heirship findings was triggered at the time of the original order, not the amended order. Harrell v. Hayes, 1998-NMCA-136, 126 N.M. 23, 965 P.2d 939.

Adequate notice. — Where it was undisputed that son received first petition by certified mail and that he and his mother retained counsel to participate in probate proceeding, statutory and constitutional notice requirements were complied with. In re Estate of Gaines, 1992-NMCA-027, 113 N.M. 652, 830 P.2d 569.

Showing required. — This section requires a showing of a will or an omitted heir, and such a showing is a necessary circumstance without which it would be inappropriate to modify or vacate a "final" order. Mathieson v. Hubler, 1978-NMCA-119, 92 N.M. 381, 588 P.2d 1056, cert. denied, 92 N.M. 353, 588 P.2d 554.

Husband's sworn disclaimer of any interest in his wife's estate, except insofar as he might be a devisee under a will, is substantial evidence, in itself, to support a trial court's finding that the husband had not brought himself within Subsection A(2) of this section. Mathieson v. Hubler, 1978-NMCA-119, 92 N.M. 381, 588 P.2d 1056, cert. denied, 92 N.M. 353, 588 P.2d 554.

Where time for appealing formal testacy order had run, the distribution of the estate was res judicata absent fraud or jurisdictional error. In re Estate of Kemnitz, 1981-NMCA-013, 95 N.M. 513, 623 P.2d 1027.

Law reviews. — For annual survey of New Mexico law relating to estates and trusts, see 12 N.M.L. Rev. 363 (1982).

Am. Jur. 2d, A.L.R. and C.J.S. references. — 79 Am. Jur. 2d Wills § 842; 80 Am. Jur. 2d Wills §§ 1063, 1065.

95 C.J.S. Wills §§ 502, 574, 584.

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