Rest easy with your Colorado probate estate in good hands
Probate is the legal process used to distribute the assets of a deceased person.
The type of probate and the length of time of the probate proceedings depends on the size of the estate and the assets within it.
For smaller estates, it is often not necessary to hire an attorney.
For medium to larger estates, having an attorney can be incredibly helpful in identifying and valuing assets, ensuring the probate estate is competently handled and ensuring a timely, cost-effective probate process.
What you need to know about probate
Under Colorado law, a deceased person’s will must be filed in the District Court where that person resided within ten days of death, regardless of whether the will is expected go through probate.
The court will then appoint a personal representative (also known as an executor) to act on behalf of the deceased in distributing his or her assets during the course of probate.
There a few types of probate administration.
- The first is reserved for small estates valued at less than $50,000 and containing no real estate. For small estates, beneficiaries can often collect the assets willed to them by filing affidavits with the court. No other legal proceedings are necessary.
- The second type is called informal probate, and it is reserved for uncontested estates. Informal probate is administered by the court, but the assets of the deceased are distributed in accordance with a valid, uncontested will.
Informal probate is also used in cases where a person has died without a will but is survived by a spouse or one child, so it is clear under the intestacy provisions of Colorado law who is entitled to the assets of the deceased.
- The third and final type of probate is formal probate. Formal probate administration is opened when a will is invalid, contested or unclear. Problems with identifying heirs or clearing the title of real property can also lead to formal probate.
In formal probate, the personal representative of the estate may be required to receive approval from the court to conduct any transaction on behalf of the estate.
Both informal and formal probate must be open for at least six months, though probate administration can last much longer. The personal representative must notify any creditors that the estate has entered probate. The personal representative must pay any legitimate claims made against the state.
Once the creditors have been paid, the personal representative makes payments to the beneficiaries and heirs. When all of the assets are transferred out of the estate, the estate closes, and probate concludes.