FARMINGTON – The San Juan County court system had a familiar face take over a vacant position as Gary Risley was sworn in Jan. 4 to serve as probate judge.

San Juan County commissioners selected Risley out of a large pool of applicants to nominate for the position alongside one other person, according to a news release from San Juan County. Risley was chosen based on a 4-1 vote of the commission.

Risley will replace Stacey Biel who was elected to a magistrate judge position in November. He will serve the remainder of her two-year term.

“The probate judge position fits well within the primary areas of my legal practice which include, estate planning, probate, business law and real estate,” Risley said in the release. “The probate judge position, which is part-time, is one of the few judicial positions that will allow me to maintain my legal practice while serving as a judge.”

Risley previously served two terms as probate judge, which pushed him to his term limit.

“I appreciate the confidence placed in me by the San Juan County commissioners,” he said. “I enjoyed my previous opportunity to serve the people of San Juan County in this capacity, and I look forward to doing so again.”

The office of probate judge handles informal probate proceedings, such as gathering assets, paying bills and transferring the property of someone who has died “so that title to the decedent’s property may be legally vest in his or her heirs as provided in a will or by state law,” according to the release.

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