Probate Law in Colorado
Many people believe that if they have a will they do not have to go through probate; this is not true. In Colorado, if a person owns assets exceeding $60,000.00 and or they own an interest in real estate, 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. Usually the will names a personal representative so the court knows who the decedent wanted to be in charge of their affairs after their death. Without a will many people may have equal rights to be named as personal representative so the court must decide. If more than one person wants to be named personal representative and they have equal priority, a hearing will be required. Usually, a will also states who should receive the decedent’s assets. The beneficiaries named in the will are entitled to a distribution of the assets, unless the will is contested. If you do not have a will, the State of Colorado writes one for you. It determines who is entitled to your assets and who should be appointed as 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 $60,000.00 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 personal representative has priority for appointment. Informal probate does not require court supervision. Administration is begun by filing a number of forms with the probate court. One of the forms requests that the court appoint a personal representative. 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 according to the will or the 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 court house, through the self-help center at www.courts.state.co.us or at Bradford Publishing, but they are somewhat confusing. Court costs are always involved which generally do not exceed $200. Creditors must be notified and a Creditors Notice must be published 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.