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Probate and Letters of Administration

When a person passes away, they may leave behind property and money that must be distributed to someone else. If the estate’s net worth hits a certain threshold, the estate will go through formal or informal probate based upon various factors.  The probate process is different depending on if the deceased had created a will (or if the deceased died intestate, meaning they died without a will). Probate is the legal process of estate evaluation, confirmation and distribution. In Colorado, an estate may not be necessary if the deceased had assets titled in their name alone that are worth less than $66,000 and owns no real property.  Assets that are held as joint tenants or have beneficiary designations typically do not count. 

If that person wrote a valid last will and testament, they may have named an executor for their estate within the will. This is the person who will be responsible for wrapping up the many details of the estate distribution such as paying bills and taxes until the estate is settled, identifying and valuing all of the assets and getting each portion of the estate to the people designated in the will. If no executor was named, the courts will appoint an administrator.

If the person died intestate, the courts will appoint an administrator for the estate based upon various factors. The courts may choose a surviving spouse, child, parent, sibling or other next of kin to be the administrator of the estate. This person will have the same responsibilities of an executor. They will be required to follow intestacy laws surrounding the distribution of the estate – they will not be able to make their own decisions on how to divide the estate.

Proof of Power

The role of executor or administrator of an estate is a powerful one. You will essentially be responsible for making sure that another person’s life work is well-protected and passed down to the right people. However, in order to carry out these duties, you may need to provide proof that you have been given this role.

The courts can write you Letters of Administration (if the deceased died without a will) or Letters Testamentary (if the deceased died with a will), an official document that proves you have the legal authority to access the deceased person’s assets. Financial institutions may require this document before you can access bank account information, for example, to pay bills and taxes due on the estate. You may also need this document to sell property. The court will issue the Letters, whether of Administration or Testamentary, after the proper documentation to open the estate has been filed with the Court. 

Help with Estate Administration

Handling the responsibilities of estate administration can be overwhelming, especially if you work full-time and have a family. The Denver estate administration lawyers at The Brown Law Firm, LLC can help you get the correct paperwork completed/submitted and direct you on how to organize your To Do list. Relying on experienced professionals to navigate this complicated process is often well worth the investment: it will save time, reduce frustrations and can even end up saving money in the long run. Contact The Brown Law Firm, LLC at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to learn more about how we can help.