Probate is the court-supervised process of settling the estate of someone who has passed away. The process involves locating all of the property or assets that will pass through the Will or, if no Will exists, will be distributed appropriately to the beneficiaries according to Colorado intestacy law. However, it involves more than that and you may have questions or concerns about the probate process of your family member or friend. Furthermore, if you have been named the executor of the will or the personal representative by the probate court, you will likely need legal guidance so that you comply with the law in administering the estate.
The Osterman Law Firm can help you with any aspect of the probate process. We also represent individuals contesting any part of the probate process, such as contesting provisions in the Will. Whatever your needs may be in connection with a probated estate, you can have confidence that our team can give you the guidance you need. With 40 years of experience, we are well-equipped to handle your legal needs in probate matters.
Probate involves several steps. However, the basic purpose is to identify all of the decedent’s property, assets, and belongings, which can involve real estate and other personal items. These are referred to as the decedent’s “estate.” The process also includes identifying all debts owed by the estate, notifying creditors, and paying valid debts through the court. Once all of this has been accomplished, what remains will be distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries. If a Will is involved, its instructions will be carried out by the executor. If no Will exists, the estate will be distributed per the law.
Colorado has three probate processes as follows:
- A process for small estates
- An informal process
- A formal process
Small estates are considered to be personal property with a value of less than $70,000 (as of 2020) which does not include any real estate. This minimal process is completed with an affidavit filed with the court. After approval, the decedent’s assets may be secured by the heirs.
The informal probate process is also less time-consuming and less expensive than the formal process. It can be handled when no expectation of a Will contest or any other serious issue exists. If no Will, once again the estate is distributed according to Colorado’s succession laws.
The formal probate process is much more closely supervised by the court. It is used for more complex estates or when Will contests, other litigation, or other complications become part of the proceedings. An example of this can include estates without a Will where it is unclear as to whom is in line for the succession of the estate. The formal process commonly involves court hearings for the determination of various issues.
Both the formal and informal probate processes take at least six months to complete. During the administration of the estate, the executor/personal representative is required to fulfill certain duties and holds a fiduciary duty to settle the estate according to the best interests of the heirs and beneficiaries.
It is important to note that the probate court cannot provide you with any legal advice in the matter of estate administration. If you have been named as executor or personal representative in the settling of an estate, you will need to gather the information you need on your own to handle the process. This can be overwhelming for the average person. However, The Osterman Law Firm can give you the guidance you need in any probate case or matter. Our team has been assisting clients in Colorado probate matters since 1982.
Connect with a Denver probate attorney at The Osterman Law Firm by sending us a message or phoning us at (303) 500-8633 to book an appointment.