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Probate

Burnham law is a Colorado Probate Firm
serving Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and all of Colorado.

Probate Specialists.

Our probate attorneys are aggressive, strategic and goal-oriented. We’re masterful in trial litigation and we work hard to fight for the clients and cases we represent.

We are dedicated to helping people in our community make informed decisions by providing no pressure consultations at no cost.

We offer wisdom
when life hits hard.

Sharp. Strategic. Efficient.
  • What is Probate?

    The probate process comes into play when a family member or loved one passes away. It’s the judicial process of determining the validity of the will they left behind or settling estate matters should there be an absence of a will.

  • How a Probate Attorney can Help

    Having a probate lawyer helping you plan your estate or execute your deceased family member’s will guarantee that the probate process will be handled properly and remain as smooth as possible.

  • Why Choose Burnham Law?

    With over 200 years of combined experience, our attorneys provide the highest level of excellence and innovation in client representation, giving clients a strong advantage from the outset. We consider each client’s unique situation. We look at your short and long term goals to develop a case specific strategy and expertly prepare from beginning to resolution. Probate is a specialized area of law and we have specialists that focus exclusively on probate. We provide tremendous value for our clients. We are experts in the field and we handle it better than anyone else. Hire our professionals to do this right.

Everything is personal about probate

Overcome Adversity.

Wills

If you were to die without a will, your estate would be distributed under specific instructions by Colorado law.  There is no guarantee that Colorado laws align with your desires.  However, you can override the Colorado laws by having a will.  A will is a legal document that gives instructions for distributing your assets upon death.

In addition to other instructions, your will can include:

  • Naming who receives what property.
  • The selection of the personal representative of your estate.
  • Address the payment of any taxes and debts.
  • Address burial and funeral expenses.
  • Name a guardian for your minor child(ren).

When you pass, your loved ones will be going through an emotional time, and there will be added stress in having to deal with the legalities of your estate.  Having a well-drafted will can be your last gift to your grieving loved ones.

The will can provide:

  • Reduced risk of legal challenges to the estate.
  • Reduced time spent going through probate.
  • An expedited process so that your heirs can more quickly access your property.
  • Reduced stress on your loved ones by allocating payment of funeral expenses.
  • A clear path for the payment of taxes

If you already have a will, life situations change, and laws are amended (e.g. tax laws).  Colorado law allows you to update, change, and amend the contents of your will as often as needed.

Whether you desire an entire estate plan or a simple will, our attorneys at Burnham Law can help you accomplish your goals.

Contested Wills

A Will is a legal document that gives instructions for distributing assets upon death.  Only “interested parties” are allowed to contest (or fight) the validity of a Will.  In Colorado, “interested parties” are people who would have inherited from the deceased had there been no Will or a named beneficiary in the current or previous Will.

A Will may be deemed invalid if the Testator (the person who made the Will) was under undue influence.  Undue influence occurs when a person manipulates the Testator to such a degree that they lose free will.  Common forms of manipulation are: coercion, duress, and the misuse of power.  An example of misuse of power or trust is when a person who inherits from a will was in a fiduciary relationship with the Testator and uses that relationship to influence the Will.

Colorado law requires that Wills be created with certain formalities, such as:

  • The Testator be at least 18 years old;
  • The Testator be of sound mind;
  • The Will be in writing;
  • The Will be signed by the Testator or signed by an appointed person of the Testator;
  • The Will be signed and witnessed by two impartial parties; and
  • The Will be notarized.

Colorado law requires the Testator be of sound mind when the Will is created and signed.  Whether the  Testator was of sound mind is a determination the court makes after looking at several factors, including:

  • Whether the Testator generally understood they were making out a Will and the effects of the Will;
  • Whether the Testator generally understood the nature and amount of property they owned;
  • Whether the Testator generally understood how the Will distributes the property;
  • Whether the Will matches the Testator’s desires; and
  • Whether the Testator was able to make rational decisions.

If the court finds that the Testator had a general understanding of the factors, the court should determine they were of sound mind.

A Will may be considered invalid if its creation was due to fraud.  In determining a claim of fraud, the court considers:

  • If someone made a false representation to the Testator;
  • The person knew the representation was false;
  • The Testator believed the false representation; and
  • The false representation caused the Testator to execute a Will they would not have otherwise executed.

Estates

You have a choice, if you die or become incapacitated you can have complete control over your assets and care – or – you can let the State of Colorado have control over your assets and care. The State of Colorado has a plan for you, whether you agree with it, like it, or it causes undue expenses. But you can bypass the State’s plan and have your own individualized plan (called your estate plan) where you control your assets, control your financial/physical care, align guardians for your children, and avoid waste (taxes, court costs, legal fees).  Burnham Law wants to help you keep control.

In the unfortunate event of death or incapacitation, estate planning is about having a legal plan in place to account for your assets and care.

A solid estate plan will accomplish these goals (amongst others):

  • Name the people or organizations that will receive the things you own after you die.
  • Transfer the things you own with the least amount of taxes, court costs, legal fees, and without disqualifying family members with special needs from other benefits.
  • Provide for loved ones with special protections from irresponsible waste, creditors, and/or divorce.
  • If you become incapacitated prior to death, your estate plan may include instructions for both your care and financial affairs.
  • Safeguard and control your child(ren)’s inheritance.
  • Name guardian(s) for your child(ren)’s care.

Estate planning at Burnham Law provides more than just a solid plan, it provides peace of mind. We want you and your loved ones to have the peace of mind that in an unfortunate situation, your care and assets are managed. As we design your estate plan, we have your loved ones in mind so that the transition is smooth, without conflict, and without unnecessary waste.

Whether you are just starting your estate plan, updating, or need to review; let our experienced team at Burnham Law give you peace of mind.

Minor Settlements

In Colorado, whenever there is a settlement of a claim (such as estate inheritance, personal injury, wrongful death) and the person receiving the settlement is either a minor or a person with a disability,
the law requires that the settlement be approved by the courts. This process is sometimes called “compromise of a minor’s claim.” Colorado Probate laws govern the approval process for minor settlements and are designed to protect the interests of the minor.

A compromise of a minor’s claim generally involves the following steps:

1. STEP 1: A settlement petition must be filed. The petition must include specific details of the
proposed settlement.
2. STEP 2: After proper notice, an evidentiary hearing is held. The purpose of this hearing is for
the court to hear evidence to assure the best interests of the minor are protected from any
undue influence (even from other family members).
3. STEP 3: The court issues its final order. The final order may provide the guidance and amount
of the approved settlement. This can include the attorney fees and costs, amounts to be paid to medical providers, and net proceeds to the minor. Further, the order may detail what form of settlement will be provided to the minor (structured, fiduciary restricted account, appointment
of a conservator, trust, etc.).
4. STEP 4: If necessary, a conservator is appointed. In some circumstances, Colorado law requires the appointment of a conservator. The conservator is tasked with administering the proceeds
on behalf of and in the best interests of the minor. Once appointed, the conservator is required to file annual reports with the court to ensure the continuing duty of acting in the best interests
of the minor.

Whether you are seeking for a minor’s settlement to be approved or objecting to a proposed settlement, Burnham Law can help. Our probate attorneys are not just excellent at drafting estate plans; we are trial attorneys who are comfortable and effective inside the courtroom.

Guardianships

 

Elder Abuse

Seniors and at-risk adults have long been exploited and targeted.  The victims are usually physically and/or mentally vulnerable while having desirable assets (cash, homes, investments, etc.).  These dreadful situations of abuse are widespread and a growing problem.

Neglect and Physical Abuse

Abuse of at-risk adults includes acts (or failures to act) that threaten the health, safety, or welfare of an at-risk adult.  This includes acts (or failures to act) that expose the at-risk adult to a situation that poses an imminent risk of injury or death.

In terms of caretakers, neglect occurs when the caretaker fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, medical care, or supervision.

Financial Exploitation/Misuse of Assets

Financial exploitation means the improper use of an at-risk adult’s financial resources for another person’s advantage.  Misuse of assets typically occurs when someone unlawfully spends the at-risk adult’s money (or uses assets) without permission and/or not for the benefit of the at-risk adult.  Another form of misuse of assets is when the abuser unlawfully coerces the at-risk adult to execute a deed, title, or transfer ownership of an asset.

Common Law Marriage

 

Undue Influence

Undue influence occurs when the actions of a person deprive the victim of free will, causing the victim to perform some act they would not have otherwise performed.  Most commonly, undue influence claims are brought to invalidate a will or cancel a property conveyance.

When evaluating an undue influence claim, the court first looks at the relationship between the testator/grantor (the person making the will or conveying the property) and the beneficiary (recipient of property).  The court will especially look to see if there is a confidential or fiduciary relationship between the parties, such as guardians, powers of attorney, doctors, attorneys, and accountants.  When a confidential/fiduciary relationship exists, the outside person has great influence over the testator/grantor, and the court will require the confidant/fiduciary to show they did not abuse their special trust and power.  If the relationship is abused to influence the testator/grantor, the will may be invalidated, or the property conveyance may be cancelled.

If there is no confidential or fiduciary relationship, undue influence can still be found.  The Court determines If there was any unlawful or fraudulent influence that controlled the will of the grantor/testator.  The Court investigates if the influence was purposeful and so dominant that it overcame the will of the grantor/testator to the extent they are deprived of free will.  Most commonly, the fraudulent influence is a result of fear or coercion.

Proving undue influence can be difficult.  It is not unlawful to give property out of love and affection (even if the gift shows preference over a family member).  The law tries to balance the right to gift a person’s property to another with undue influence.  This balance is why having an experienced trial lawyer is crucial.

Litigating an undue influence case is complex; Burnham Law can give you the upper hand.  Since it is unlikely  there be a non-party eyewitness to the underlying transaction, you need an attorney who can effectively gather evidence from a wide range of sources.  From there, your attorney must know how to organize and prioritize the evidence gathered.  Lastly, you need an attorney who knows how to present the evidence to the judge or jury.  This is what Burnham Law excels at. We investigate, organize, and present.  Our attorneys are seasoned trial lawyers who can give you the advantage in an undue influence case.

Intestate Succession

 

Wills

Wills

If you were to die without a will, your estate would be distributed under specific instructions by Colorado law.  There is no guarantee that Colorado laws align with your desires.  However, you can override the Colorado laws by having a will.  A will is a legal document that gives instructions for distributing your assets upon death.

In addition to other instructions, your will can include:

  • Naming who receives what property.
  • The selection of the personal representative of your estate.
  • Address the payment of any taxes and debts.
  • Address burial and funeral expenses.
  • Name a guardian for your minor child(ren).

When you pass, your loved ones will be going through an emotional time, and there will be added stress in having to deal with the legalities of your estate.  Having a well-drafted will can be your last gift to your grieving loved ones.

The will can provide:

  • Reduced risk of legal challenges to the estate.
  • Reduced time spent going through probate.
  • An expedited process so that your heirs can more quickly access your property.
  • Reduced stress on your loved ones by allocating payment of funeral expenses.
  • A clear path for the payment of taxes

If you already have a will, life situations change, and laws are amended (e.g. tax laws).  Colorado law allows you to update, change, and amend the contents of your will as often as needed.

Whether you desire an entire estate plan or a simple will, our attorneys at Burnham Law can help you accomplish your goals.

Contested Wills

Contested Wills

A Will is a legal document that gives instructions for distributing assets upon death.  Only “interested parties” are allowed to contest (or fight) the validity of a Will.  In Colorado, “interested parties” are people who would have inherited from the deceased had there been no Will or a named beneficiary in the current or previous Will.

A Will may be deemed invalid if the Testator (the person who made the Will) was under undue influence.  Undue influence occurs when a person manipulates the Testator to such a degree that they lose free will.  Common forms of manipulation are: coercion, duress, and the misuse of power.  An example of misuse of power or trust is when a person who inherits from a will was in a fiduciary relationship with the Testator and uses that relationship to influence the Will.

Colorado law requires that Wills be created with certain formalities, such as:

  • The Testator be at least 18 years old;
  • The Testator be of sound mind;
  • The Will be in writing;
  • The Will be signed by the Testator or signed by an appointed person of the Testator;
  • The Will be signed and witnessed by two impartial parties; and
  • The Will be notarized.

Colorado law requires the Testator be of sound mind when the Will is created and signed.  Whether the  Testator was of sound mind is a determination the court makes after looking at several factors, including:

  • Whether the Testator generally understood they were making out a Will and the effects of the Will;
  • Whether the Testator generally understood the nature and amount of property they owned;
  • Whether the Testator generally understood how the Will distributes the property;
  • Whether the Will matches the Testator’s desires; and
  • Whether the Testator was able to make rational decisions.

If the court finds that the Testator had a general understanding of the factors, the court should determine they were of sound mind.

A Will may be considered invalid if its creation was due to fraud.  In determining a claim of fraud, the court considers:

  • If someone made a false representation to the Testator;
  • The person knew the representation was false;
  • The Testator believed the false representation; and
  • The false representation caused the Testator to execute a Will they would not have otherwise executed.

Estates

Estates

You have a choice, if you die or become incapacitated you can have complete control over your assets and care – or – you can let the State of Colorado have control over your assets and care. The State of Colorado has a plan for you, whether you agree with it, like it, or it causes undue expenses. But you can bypass the State’s plan and have your own individualized plan (called your estate plan) where you control your assets, control your financial/physical care, align guardians for your children, and avoid waste (taxes, court costs, legal fees).  Burnham Law wants to help you keep control.

In the unfortunate event of death or incapacitation, estate planning is about having a legal plan in place to account for your assets and care.

A solid estate plan will accomplish these goals (amongst others):

  • Name the people or organizations that will receive the things you own after you die.
  • Transfer the things you own with the least amount of taxes, court costs, legal fees, and without disqualifying family members with special needs from other benefits.
  • Provide for loved ones with special protections from irresponsible waste, creditors, and/or divorce.
  • If you become incapacitated prior to death, your estate plan may include instructions for both your care and financial affairs.
  • Safeguard and control your child(ren)’s inheritance.
  • Name guardian(s) for your child(ren)’s care.

Estate planning at Burnham Law provides more than just a solid plan, it provides peace of mind. We want you and your loved ones to have the peace of mind that in an unfortunate situation, your care and assets are managed. As we design your estate plan, we have your loved ones in mind so that the transition is smooth, without conflict, and without unnecessary waste.

Whether you are just starting your estate plan, updating, or need to review; let our experienced team at Burnham Law give you peace of mind.

Minor Settlements

Minor Settlements

In Colorado, whenever there is a settlement of a claim (such as estate inheritance, personal injury, wrongful death) and the person receiving the settlement is either a minor or a person with a disability,
the law requires that the settlement be approved by the courts. This process is sometimes called “compromise of a minor’s claim.” Colorado Probate laws govern the approval process for minor settlements and are designed to protect the interests of the minor.

A compromise of a minor’s claim generally involves the following steps:

1. STEP 1: A settlement petition must be filed. The petition must include specific details of the
proposed settlement.
2. STEP 2: After proper notice, an evidentiary hearing is held. The purpose of this hearing is for
the court to hear evidence to assure the best interests of the minor are protected from any
undue influence (even from other family members).
3. STEP 3: The court issues its final order. The final order may provide the guidance and amount
of the approved settlement. This can include the attorney fees and costs, amounts to be paid to medical providers, and net proceeds to the minor. Further, the order may detail what form of settlement will be provided to the minor (structured, fiduciary restricted account, appointment
of a conservator, trust, etc.).
4. STEP 4: If necessary, a conservator is appointed. In some circumstances, Colorado law requires the appointment of a conservator. The conservator is tasked with administering the proceeds
on behalf of and in the best interests of the minor. Once appointed, the conservator is required to file annual reports with the court to ensure the continuing duty of acting in the best interests
of the minor.

Whether you are seeking for a minor’s settlement to be approved or objecting to a proposed settlement, Burnham Law can help. Our probate attorneys are not just excellent at drafting estate plans; we are trial attorneys who are comfortable and effective inside the courtroom.

Guardianships

Guardianships

 

Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse

Seniors and at-risk adults have long been exploited and targeted.  The victims are usually physically and/or mentally vulnerable while having desirable assets (cash, homes, investments, etc.).  These dreadful situations of abuse are widespread and a growing problem.

Neglect and Physical Abuse

Abuse of at-risk adults includes acts (or failures to act) that threaten the health, safety, or welfare of an at-risk adult.  This includes acts (or failures to act) that expose the at-risk adult to a situation that poses an imminent risk of injury or death.

In terms of caretakers, neglect occurs when the caretaker fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, medical care, or supervision.

Financial Exploitation/Misuse of Assets

Financial exploitation means the improper use of an at-risk adult’s financial resources for another person’s advantage.  Misuse of assets typically occurs when someone unlawfully spends the at-risk adult’s money (or uses assets) without permission and/or not for the benefit of the at-risk adult.  Another form of misuse of assets is when the abuser unlawfully coerces the at-risk adult to execute a deed, title, or transfer ownership of an asset.

Common Law Marriage

Common Law Marriage

 

Undue Influence

Undue Influence

Undue influence occurs when the actions of a person deprive the victim of free will, causing the victim to perform some act they would not have otherwise performed.  Most commonly, undue influence claims are brought to invalidate a will or cancel a property conveyance.

When evaluating an undue influence claim, the court first looks at the relationship between the testator/grantor (the person making the will or conveying the property) and the beneficiary (recipient of property).  The court will especially look to see if there is a confidential or fiduciary relationship between the parties, such as guardians, powers of attorney, doctors, attorneys, and accountants.  When a confidential/fiduciary relationship exists, the outside person has great influence over the testator/grantor, and the court will require the confidant/fiduciary to show they did not abuse their special trust and power.  If the relationship is abused to influence the testator/grantor, the will may be invalidated, or the property conveyance may be cancelled.

If there is no confidential or fiduciary relationship, undue influence can still be found.  The Court determines If there was any unlawful or fraudulent influence that controlled the will of the grantor/testator.  The Court investigates if the influence was purposeful and so dominant that it overcame the will of the grantor/testator to the extent they are deprived of free will.  Most commonly, the fraudulent influence is a result of fear or coercion.

Proving undue influence can be difficult.  It is not unlawful to give property out of love and affection (even if the gift shows preference over a family member).  The law tries to balance the right to gift a person’s property to another with undue influence.  This balance is why having an experienced trial lawyer is crucial.

Litigating an undue influence case is complex; Burnham Law can give you the upper hand.  Since it is unlikely  there be a non-party eyewitness to the underlying transaction, you need an attorney who can effectively gather evidence from a wide range of sources.  From there, your attorney must know how to organize and prioritize the evidence gathered.  Lastly, you need an attorney who knows how to present the evidence to the judge or jury.  This is what Burnham Law excels at. We investigate, organize, and present.  Our attorneys are seasoned trial lawyers who can give you the advantage in an undue influence case.

Intestate Succession

Intestate Succession

 

Comprehensive representation throughout all aspects of probate law.
Clients First Philosophy. Personalized Representation.

Superior Communication. We understand that client communication is critical to a successful outcome.

Here’s how
we’re different.

Probate helps ensure that all financial affairs that involve the deceased are settled. This includes the payment of outstanding debts that were left behind, taxes, and other liabilities. It’s a very detailed, involved, and complex process to make sure that the estate goes into the right hands and is properly managed and distributed. Because of its complexity and sensitivity, it is easy for a probate case to becoming confusing and overwhelming. A knowledgeable attorney can help eliminate mistakes and swiftly and effectively overcome the process.

Experienced attorneys and paralegals. Convenient office locations throughout Colorado.

Hear how we think.

Sometimes you have to dig down.

justice demands accountability. Without accountability there is no deterrence. Without deterrence there is no safety.

This moment does not define you, but the next moments will.

We can't change the past,
but we'll work to make your future brighter.

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