Probate

Probate in Colorado

If you are here to learn about Colorado probate after the passing of a loved one, we first want to say that we are very sorry for your loss. We hope that the information you find on this page will simplify any legal and administrative headaches you might otherwise face during such a difficult time.

What Is Colorado Probate?

Probate in Colorado is a court-supervised procedure that helps to ensure the legal transfer of assets from the deceased to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries.

What Is The Probate Process In Colorado?

The probate process in Colorado is the legal proceeding that takes place when a person dies and they have left behind assets that need to be distributed. This process can be complex, so it is important to have an experienced lawyer helping you through it. The steps in the Colorado probate process vary depending on the situation, but generally include filing the will with the court, notifying heirs and creditors, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets.

What If There Is No Will?

When a person dies without leaving a will, the probate process in Colorado will identify and distribute the deceased’s assets in accordance with state law. The court appoints an administrator to manage the estate, and creditors must file claims against the estate within four months of publication of the notice to creditors. If there are no objections, the administrator distributes the assets according to statutory order.

Formal Vs. Informal Probate Process

There are two main types of probate process in Colorado, formal and informal. In a formal probate, the court oversees the entire process, while in an informal one, the executor handles most of the tasks.

Are The Rules Of Probate Different If The Estate Is Small?

In Colorado, the probate process is generally the same for all estates, regardless of their size. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if an estate is small and doesn’t have a lot of assets, it may not be necessary to go through a full probate process. Instead, the executor may be able to distribute the property directly to the beneficiaries.

How Is The Probate Process Started In Colorado?

The process of probate in Colorado is started by the filing of a petition for administration with the court. The person seeking to administer the estate of the deceased is called a petitioner.

Who Can Initiate The Probate Process In Colorado?

Although any beneficiary or creditor can initiate probate, normally the person named in the will as the Executor starts the process by filing the original will with the court and filing a Petition with the court. If there is no will, typically a close relative of the decedent who expects to inherit from the estate will file the Petition.

Steps In Colorado Probate?

In Colorado, the probate process is generally less common than it used to be. This is because there are a number of options available to estate owners to avoid probate, including transferring property through beneficiary designations and joint tenancy. In fact, only about 10% of estates in Colorado now go through a court-supervised probate proceeding.

Small Estates In Colorado Probate

If the total value of the deceased’s estate is less than $66,000, an inheritor can claim certain property by merely filing an affidavit. This includes any real or personal property that was owned by the deceased at death and did not pass through a will.

Probate Court

If the total value of the estate is more than $66,000, then it must go through probate court. The court will appoint a personal representative to administer and manage the estate. The personal representative will be responsible for gathering and managing assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing property to beneficiaries. However, there may be instances where additional steps or procedures are necessary, such as when there is an unresolved creditor or beneficiary claim.

After A Person’s Death, Their Estate Is Administered By A Fiduciary

When a person dies, their estate is administered by a fiduciary, who follows the steps in Colorado probate to ensure that the deceased’s wishes are carried out. The first step is to identify and inventory all of the deceased’s assets. Next, any debts and taxes owed by the estate must be paid. After that, the remaining assets are distributed according to the will or, if there is no will, according to state law. Finally, any closing documents are filed with the court.

How Long Do You Have To File Probate In Colorado?

In Colorado, there is a time limit for how long you have to file probate after someone dies. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. If you do not file probate within this time frame, you may lose your right to do so.

In Colorado, probate must be filed within 3 years of the death of the individual. This time frame is important to remember if someone dies without a will or if there are estate taxes that need to be paid. If these things are not taken care of in a timely manner, the state can take control of the estate.

How Is The Executor Or Personal Representative Chosen? Do They Have To Be A Family Member?

If the decedent had a will, the person named in the will as the Executor will serve, if eligible. If that person is unable or unwilling to serve as Executor, or if there is no Will, then any interested family member or person can petition the Court to be the administrator of the Estate.

What Is The Personal Representative’s Role In The Probate Process?

The personal representative is the person appointed by the court to administer an estate. This person’s job is to gather and assess all of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities, pay his or her bills, and handle the distribution of the estate’s assets to chosen beneficiaries, in accordance with the deceased person’s will.

The personal representative must see that the deceased person’s final tax returns are filed. A personal representative has many duties, rights, and responsibilities, including opening an estate bank account, selling/transferring assets, consolidating bank accounts, dealing with creditors.

How Does The Executor Get Paid?

Colorado law provides that the Executor gets paid according to a compensation schedule, based on a percentage of the assets of the probate estate.

Could I Be Held Personally Liable For Making A Mistake As An Executor?

Being an Executor is a big responsibility. Colorado’s probate code contains pages upon pages of complex legal rules and procedures that an Executor must follow during the probate. Also, there are certain deadlines that an Executor must meet in filing papers with the Court. If an Executor violates any of these rules, they can be held personally liable for losses to the estate.

My Loved Ones Estate Planning Included A Trust, Will We Need To Go Through Probate?

In most cases, no. If your loved one’s assets are owned in the name of a Trust, the family can contact a lawyer who will complete some paperwork and guide the loved ones through the process with ease without the need for court involvement.

Colorado Probate Law

Unfortunately, many people who have a Trust think they have it all taken care of. But time and again, family members of a recently passed loved one come into my office and they find out they are facing the frustration, expense, and delay of probate, even though the person they loved had a trust. Why is that?

Often the Trust was prepared many years ago and was never updated; and often, their loved ones’ assets were not owned in the name of their Trust. That is why it is so very important that you carefully choose your estate planning attorney and have regular reviews of your plan and assets so the planning you do now works as planned later. It’s why we do things so much different than most other lawyers and law firms, here at Colorado Wills and Estates.

How Long Does Probate Take In Colorado?

The length of time of probate will depend on several factors. It usually takes a minimum of 9 months and can take up to two years or even longer for complex cases. Probate legal fees are set by state law. The Personal Representative (i.e. Executor or Administrator) is also entitled to the statutory fee for their services. The Colorado Probate court can order additional fees for more complicated cases or extraordinary services. There are also court costs and filing fees, document certification and recording fees, and property appraisal fees.

How Is Distribution Of The Estate Handled If There Is No Will?

If there is no will or trust, the estate will be distributed according to Colorado probate and intestate laws, which state that a person’s estate will be distributed in the following order:

1. Spouse
2. Children
3. Parents (if you have no children)
4. Siblings (if you have no children or parents).

What’s So Bad About Probate In Colorado? And What Should I Do Next?

Many residents in Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Douglas County have heard that probate is bad news. It tends to be very expensive, it’s time-consuming, and it’s also a public process. The easiest way to avoid this process is to plan; but if you are now in a situation where you must go through the courts to finalize the estate of a loved one, the best thing you can do is get educated and get help to complete the process as quickly, and cost-effectively, as possible.

Getting Help: Choosing The Right Attorney For Your Case

The best way to ensure your probate is done right is to choose your attorney wisely. Do not assume that all attorneys are the same! Too many lawyers only “dabble” in probate or trusts. Don’t choose a lawyer who does probate as a sideline because these lawyers often blunder causing real problems for their client and their cases often take longer than those handled by experienced probate lawyers.

You don’t have to use the attorney who prepared the Will either. Just because a particular attorney prepared the Will, that does not mean the same attorney must handle the probate, nor are they necessarily the right person for the job. You need to be comfortable with the attorney and confident that they are the right attorney for you. Choosing your probate or trust lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make. If you put in the time and effort to find the right lawyer, you will be rewarded with a skillful guide who will help you navigate the probate process.

We make it easy and affordable
to complete your estate Plan.

Contact Colorado Wills And Estates For A Complimentary Post-Death Estate Review

If you’re ready to get started with the probate process after the passing of a loved one, please contact our experienced Arapahoe, Denver, and Douglas County probate attorneys at 720-647-5280 or schedule a complimentary strategy Session to help determine your next best steps.

We are here in service to making this all as easy as possible for you. During this appointment, we will answer all of your questions about probate and guide you and your family through the next best steps. We are committed to helping you administer your loved one’s estate as quickly and efficiently as possible, and look forward to relieving any administrative or legal burdens you may face during this time of loss.