Probate judge describes position

By Sarah Meyer, PNT Staff Writer

Probate judge is one of the positions up for election this year in Roosevelt County, with one Democrat and three Republicans vying for the office.
Current Probate Judge Nancy Gentry has held the office for 10 years — a partial term plus two full four-year terms — and is not eligible for re-election.

The probate judge is responsible for overseeing the judicial process of transferring property from a person who has died to his or her heirs, whether through a will or a personal representative, said Gentry. She helps people fill out the necessary forms, which are filed with the county clerk’s office. The forms are available in the clerk’s office or online.

“I have to approve the whole probate procedure,” Gentry said.

She said small estates can be handled by her office, but large, complicated estates will require an attorney, and contested estates have to go through District Court. Not all estates have to go through probate.

“I’ve learned that people need to have a will or it can get really complicated,” she said.

Gentry said those elected to the office must complete mandatory training, conducted by the New Mexico Association of Counties, every year. She said she has learned a lot about laws and ethics, “the same as any judge.”

The probate judge also performs marriage ceremonies.

“I’ve done a lot of weddings,” Gentry said.

Gentry has a full-time job; the office of probate judge is a part-time position.

“I feel like I’ve just learned it, and it’s time to go,” Gentry said, adding that she will help whoever is elected to the office. “It’s been a very rewarding job. I feel like I’ve been able to help a lot of people.”