What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone dies. It makes sure property and possessions are given to rightful heirs, and any taxes or debts owed are paid in full. If there’s a written will, the court will first authenticate it and then make sure the directions in the will are carried out.
The probate court judge needs just one person to take the reins in each case (an executor or personal representative.) And they'll be the point person whether or not there’s a clear will in place.
Our experienced Probate Attorneys in Colorado can provide assistance dealing with issues related to:
Petitioning a court for the appointment of a personal representative
Assisting with the collection and distribution of property from the estate
Addressing any claims brought against the decedent’s estate
Types of Probate Cases
In Colorado, there are three types of probates: small estates, testate estates (if there is a will), and intestate estates (if there is no will).
Uncontested Estates (“Informal”)
The informal process is generally allowed when there is a valid will or clear intestacy, no contests are expected, and there is a qualified personal representative ready to be appointed. The court has a limited role in the administration, but ensures that the directions in the will or intestacy law are followed, and provides a venue in which the devisees or heirs may hold the personal representative accountable.
Contested Estates and Invalid or Questionable Wills (“Formal”)
A formal probate may be required for several reasons, including when a will is contested, unclear, or invalid; or when there are apparent or actual significant challenges in administration (i.e., identifying heirs, property title disputes). In formal probate, the court may require that the personal representative get approval for every transaction or may allow the personal representative to administer the estate unsupervised.
If using an Affidavit of Collection of Personal Property, the person completing the form will present the form to the financial institution or individual holding the decedent’s assets. Once the assets are collected, this individual can distribute the assets to those entitled to it, whether per the terms of the decedent’s will or the intestacy laws.
In both an informal and formal probate procedure, the court appoints a personal representative or special administrator who is given the authority to essentially step into the decedent’s shoes to wrap up business affairs and distribute assets. The personal representative may be supervised by the court or conduct the administration without supervision, but is considered a fiduciary for purposes of dealing with the decedent’s property.
(under $68,000 and no real property)
Whether or not one has a will at the time of death, if the decedent’s assets amount to $68,000 or less in personal property (including bank accounts and cash) and there is no real property, the devisees or heirs may collect the assets by using an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property. There is no required action through the court for small estates. Rather, this procedure requires the devisee or heir collecting assets to swear or affirm they are entitled to the assets and will distribute assets to any other entitled devisees or heirs.
Call 303-757-8300 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced probate attorneys.
“We hired Aaron Evans for our complicated probate matter after he was referred to us by another attorney as the “guy to get the job done”. It was the right decision. He took on a very contentious family dynamic fueled by tough opposition.
Aaron helped us to take the emotion out of the decisions and to focus on the legal matters. I can’t emphasize enough Aaron’s attention to detail and the empathy and execution with which he handled our case. He was a pleasure to work with and I would highly recommend him to anyone dealing with a probate issue.”
~ Rich, Highlands Ranch