Most estates in Colorado must go through the probate system with the courts following the death of the owner of the estate – whether or not that person has created a will. Probate is a legal process that is carried out by the courts to ensure that the estate is distributed according the terms of the Deceased person’s will or the laws of intestacy if the person dies without a will. This process can be easy or quite complicated, depending on external contests (challenges) to the contents of the will or the court decisions surrounding an estate without a will.
If a person died with a will in place, a probate estate may need to be opened. In Colorado, this can be done in 2 ways:
- For uncontested estates, informal probate: a court-appointed person or person outlined in the will distributes the assets and completes all financial affairs, including paying off any creditors during the allowed timeframe. Formal notices about the deceased person are sent to the heirs and beneficiaries and also publicly published.
- For contested estates or wills issues surrounding its validity, formal probate: this process is the same as informal probate, but the representative often needs court approval for transactions. This is to ensure that disputes are settled regarding any aspect of the will or to satisfy creditor claims. The court may also need to supervise the entire process in messy cases.
Probate Forms for Colorado
- Instructions for filing probate with a will can be found at: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Forms/Forms_List.cfm?Form_Type_ID=177
- Instructions for filing probate without a will can be found at: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Forms/Forms_List.cfm?Form_Type_ID=178
While these forms are available online and can be handled without legal assistance, it is highly recommended that you enlist the help of a Denver probate lawyer if you do not completely understand the information on the forms. The courts will not be able to help you decipher the information. You may also be unaware of ways to sidestep probate or make the process easier.
For example, if the estate is worth less than $66,000 and there is no real property involved, probate and court intervention may be avoided. It may be sufficient to complete an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property where a person is appointed to collect and distribute assets according to the will or intestacy (without a will) laws.
Reasons to Hire a Colorado Probate Attorney
Besides having an attorney complete and file all necessary paperwork with the courts in the right timeframe, a probate lawyer can also help manage the time-consuming and complex issues that can arise:
- Taxation issues surrounding the estate
- Distribution of assets to the beneficiaries
- Creditor claim settlements
- Payment of outstanding bills, debts, taxes, etc.
- Monitoring of the appointed executor to ensure the estate is being handled properly
- Notification of death to all beneficiaries, heirs and creditors
The Denver estate planning lawyers at Brown & Crona LLC can serve as probate attorneys on your behalf. Our goal is always to help streamline the process during this very difficult and emotional time and also to ensure that your loved one’s estate is protected as much as possible. Contact Brown & Crona LLC at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to learn more about how we can help.