“Probate” is the legal process that transfers assets from the deceased to his/her devisees (those named in the will). Every estate must go through “probate,” but the level of court involvement will differ from case to case. Colorado has three general probate procedures: (1) small estate probate, (2) informal probate, and (3) formal probate. In the situation where there is a valid uncontested will and a qualified personal representative, Colorado allows for informal probate.
Colorado informal probate proceedings are minimally supervised by a judge. The Court has very little involvement in transferring the assets of the estate. The Court avoids involvement since the will is not being contested and the personal representative is qualified to assume their duties.
The Judicial Officer assumes the estate will be properly distributed as instructed by the will; and, therefore, will only be involved in opening the case, appointing the personal representative, and closing the case. Any other involvement by the Judicial Officer comes only after a party or third party asks for their involvement.
Colorado informal probate involves the following steps:
- File the initial paperwork in the district court for the county where the deceased lived. If the deceased lived outside Colorado and probate has to occur in Colorado based on property located here, the correct court is the county where the property is.
- The Judicial Officer will review the initial paperwork to insure (1) all proper paperwork has been filed and (2) the case qualifies for informal probate.
- The Judicial Officer will issue an order appointing the Personal Representative along with Letters of Testamentary.
- The personal representative must administer the estate. Some, but not all, steps include:
- Sending the Information of Appointment to each heir.
- Providing notice to creditors.
- The personal representative distributes the assets of the estate. Distribution can involve several separate transactions, all having different requirements, such as deeds, titles, or other ownership transfer documents. Additionally, the personal representative will file the Estate Inventory and Final Accounting forms with the Registrar.
- The personal representative closes the estate by filing with the Court.
Probate and estate distribution can be legally complex. Under Colorado law, you will be held to the same rules and procedures as an attorney, even if you choose to represent yourself. Burnham Law understands that this is an emotional and exhaustive process that can leave you feeling stressed. At Burnham Law, we take pride in handling stressful situations so our clients don’t have to. Call or email today to schedule your consultation. We’ll take it from here.