To properly settle an estate, it’s important to first understand probate in Colorado. Probate, simply put, is the legal process of transferring assets from someone who has died to the beneficiaries named in the will. If there is no will, the assets need to be transferred to the deceased’s heirs (who are recipients named by law).
In Colorado, all wills and intestate estates (estates in which a valid willcan’t be found) need to be probated.
Probate For Small Estates
With small estates, probate is fairly simple. In Colorado, small estates are defined as those that have less than a specified amount of assets (such as cash and bank accounts) and no real property (such as a house or condo). With a small estate in Colorado, you can use an affidavit and don’t have to open a probate action through the court. With this procedure, as the personal representative (executor), you swear that you’re entitled to collect the assets and that you’ll distribute them according to the will.
Informal Probate For “Uncontested Estates”
When there’s a valid will, and no one is expected to contest the will, in Colorado, this probate process is known as “informal.” The court has a limited role in probate – primarily to ensure that the directions in the will are followed. Regardless of how long the full administration of the estate takes, informal probates in Colorado must be open with the court for at least six months.
Formal Probate (For Contested Estates)
If a will is unclear, invalid, or contested, or there are other significant challenges, a “formal” probate is required in Colorado. The probate court supervises these cases more intensely, these estate take longer, and the cost is higher. Regardless of how long the full administration of the estate takes, formal probates in Colorado must be open with the court for at least six months.
For more information about how to settle an estate, or to schedule your free legal consultation, please call (720) 547-2319 or email our law firm today.