Probate Judge

Lincoln County Probate Judge

Honorable Rhonda Burrows

OFFICE: 575-648-2394 EXT 6

Charlotte Emmons
Probate Clerk

Lincoln County Probate Court
Lincoln County Clerk’s Office
300 Central Avenue
P.O. Box 338
Carrizozo, NM 88301

Purpose of the Court

Probate is the court process to obtain the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate of a person who has died (decedent). The estate is distributed according to the decedent’s will or if the decedent did not have a will, according to New Mexico’s laws of intestate succession. The Probate Court appoints legally qualified persons, called personal representatives, to manage and settle the decedent’s affairs. Personal representatives distribute the assets of a decedent’s estate to the rightful recipients. These might include heirs, devisees named in a valid and current will, or creditors.

Jurisdiction of Court

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
  • Review of Proof of Authority
A probate proceeding can be filed in the Lincoln County Probate Court if:

  • The decedent was domiciled in Lincoln County at the time of death (i.e. Lincoln County was the permanent place of the decedent’s abode), or
  • The decedent lived outside of New Mexico but owned property in Lincoln 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 probate proceedings include, but are not limited to:

  • Changing title to real 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 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 longer has the authority to act on behalf of the estate.


Payment of a docket fee in the amount of $30 is required at the time probate is filed. The court charges $0.50 per page for copies. The fee to have a document certified is $1.50 per document. The court accepts cash, checks, money orders, or cashier’s checks.

Opening a Probate Case

The Application and Acceptance require the full signature of the applicant affirming, under the penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of New Mexico, that all statements are true and correct. 

  • 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 (when there is no will). The letters give personal representatives the legal authority to conduct the decedent’s estate business.


Probate cases can be filed with or without the help of an attorney (pro se).  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.

Links to various forms are provided under PAGE MENU.

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Document Center

The Document Center provides easy access to public documents. Click on one of the categories below to see related documents or use the search function.

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RESOURCES2 documents

  • 8 Steps for Probate.pdf
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  • Priority for Appointment.pdf
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