Probate in Colorado

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There is a common myth about Probate: as long as a person dies with a Will their assets will not have to go through Probate.  Sadly, this is incorrect.

Even with a valid Will your estate may still have to go through probate.  Assets subject to probate in Colorado include real estate titled only in the name of the person who died, or other assets they owned if the total combined value is $64,000.00 or more.

Someone who dies may have only “non-probate” assets.  “Non-probate” assets include: anything with beneficiaries listed, such as life insurance or retirement accounts, bank or investment accounts with POD or TOD beneficiaries (payable or transferable on death), or assets owned in joint tenancy.  “Non-probate” assets will be given to the named beneficiaries or to the joint owner, and will not follow the instructions in the decedent’s Will.

In Colorado, distributing assets to beneficiaries can happen in one of three ways: one, by a Small Estate Affidavit.  This Affidavit is used where the decedent does not have a Will, does not own real property, and their estate is less than $64,000.00.  This Affidavit is used by the heirs to direct the holder of the decedent’s assets to pay/release them to the heirs.

Two, assets may be distributed through Informal Probate.  Informal probate is used where there are no questions over the validity of the Will or, there is no fighting over the estate.  Informal probate does not require court supervision.  The Personal Representative administers the estate.  This includes filing a notice to creditors, taking an inventory of the assets, selling or liquidating the assets, and making distributions to the appropriate heirs.  During an Informal Probate the Personal Representative, or the heirs, may ask the court to become involved where necessary.

Third, an estate may need to go through Formal Probate, typically when there are questions about the validity of the Will, or there is a fight over the way the estate is to be divided.  The court will supervise the Probate and resolve any disputes.  Issues to be decided by the court may include the validity of the Will, the heirs to inherit under the law, when a creditor may make a claim against the estate, and whether a creditor’s claim is valid.

Although Probate in Colorado is not as bad as it used to be, most people prefer to avoid the process altogether because of the delays and expense associated with probate. We’ll discuss those, and the ways to avoid Probate, in future posts.

If you have questions about administering a probate estate in Colorado, contact our office.

Jessica Showers

About Jessica Showers

As an Estate Planning Attorney with Hammond Law Group, Jessica Showers focuses her practice on creating proactive and comprehensive estate plans for her clients. Mrs. Showers values learning what is truly important to each individual client and their families in order to ensure their interests are protected by their estate plan. More »

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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