Probate Law In Colorado
HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday. I want to thank you for your continued support, especially the last two years during the pandemic. I hope you and your families are well and have had no health emergencies. Many people have died in the last two years, over 800,000 in the US alone. This article covers what legally happens when someone dies in the state of Colorado.
Many people believe that if they have a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) they do not have to go through probate; this is not true. In Colorado, if a person owns personal property exceeding $70,000.00 or they own an interest in real estate (your home) they must go through probate whether or not they have a Will. A Will may simplify probate because the Will is used as a set of directions. Your Will should name a personal representative, so the court knows who you want to administer your estate after your death. Without a Will many people may have equal rights to be named as your personal representative. For example, if you have no spouse, all your children have equal rights to be your personal representative. If more than one person wants to be named personal representative and they have equal priority, a hearing will be required. A Will should also indicate who is to receive your assets at your death; these people are called beneficiaries. If you do not have a Will, the State of Colorado has laws to decide who is entitled to receive your property and who has priority to be your personal representative.
There are three ways to administer an estate; formally, informally or by affidavit. If the probate assets do not include real estate and are worth less than approximately $70,000.00, a beneficiary can execute an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property Pursuant to Small Estate Proceeding which directs the holder of the assets to release the assets to the rightful beneficiary(ies) without further action.
Informal probate is used when the person asking to be appointed as a personal representative has priority for appointment and the Will has no irregularities. Informal probate does not require court supervision, but it is still a court process. Informal probate is begun by filing forms and the Will with the probate court and paying a filing fee. The court appoints a personal representative by executing Letters Testamentary. Once the personal representative is appointed, the personal representative has the authority to transfer assets to the estate, pay the expenses and taxes of the estate and distribute the assets pursuant to the Will or Colorado laws of intestacy, if there is no will. If there is a dispute among the people who have an interest in the estate or if the Will is ambiguous, the estate may need to be probated on a formal basis.
Forms are available at the courthouse, or through the self-help center at www.courts.state.co.us. Court costs are assessed unless you are indigent, with the initial filing fee of approximately $200. Creditors must be notified and a Creditors Notice must be published in a newspaper unless the decedent has been deceased for more than one year. Although some people probate an estate without the help of an attorney, it is best to consult with an attorney.
This article was written by Tamra K Waltemath of Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney. Tamra K. Waltemath is an elder law attorney focusing on wills, trusts, estate and trust administration, probate and non-probate transfers, guardianships and conservatorships. She can be contacted at: Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C., 3843 West 73rd Avenue, Westminster, CO 80030; 303-657-0360; or visit her website at: www.WaltemathLawOffice.com.