Denver Probate Lawyer
Probate & Estate Administration in Colorado
Probate is a court procedure for settling the estate of a deceased person. The procedure is designed to insure that creditor claims and taxes are paid and that any remaining assets are transferred to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the deceased person's Will or Trust. If the deceased died without a Will or Trust, he is said to have died "intestate" in which case his estate goes to his closest living relatives.
Under Colorado law a person's estate is subject to probate if he dies owning: (1) titled personal property with an aggregate value of $64,000 or more; or (2) real estate of any value. Property that is not subject to probate includes property held in joint tenancy or in a Trust. While probate in Colorado is less complicated and less expensive than in many states, it typically costs 2-5% of the probate assets and takes a minimum of one year to complete. As a result, many of us opt for an estate plan that circumvents probate.
Types of Probate
Depending on the facts and circumstances, a Probate estate may be handled either formally or
informally, and may be
unsupervised by the court. If the deceased had a Will that is well-drafted and there are no disputes among heirs, the Personal Representative can opt for unsupervised Informal Probate. However, if there are matters in dispute or the whereabouts or identity of an heir is unknown, the estate must go through
Formal Probate, which, as the name implies, is more time-consuming and complicated.
When the probate is handled formally, the Personal Representative must file reports throughout the proceeding and must file a detailed accounting prior to disbursing the funds to the beneficiaries. In contrast the Personal Representative of an unsupervised informal proceeding is not obligated to file reports and does not need to seek court approval for any decisions or actions taken unless the court specifies otherwise.
Often it is wise for the Personal Representative to close the estate formally even if the estate was probated informally. This is because the beneficiaries are required to sign a release when they receive their inheritance waiving any claim that they might have against the estate or the Personal Representative. Otherwise, the Personal Representative remains liable for one year from the date that the estate is closed informally.
Our Denver probate attorney at James A. Littlepage Law Offices can assist with all types of probate and estate administration matters, including:
Duties of the Personal Representative During Probate
For a deceased resident of Denver County the Probate process is overseen by the Denver Probate Court. For residents of other counties that responsibility lies with a district court judge. In either case the day to day administration of the estate typically is handled by the attorney for the Personal Representative, the person named by the decedent to handle the administration of the estate.
Once the designated Personal Representative has been appointed by the Court, the Personal Representative is responsible for:
- Notifying the heirs and devisees that the estate has been opened
- Publishing a Notice to Creditors advising them as to when and where claims must be filed
- Establishing a bank account for the estate and keeping a ledger of all funds received or disbursed
- Maintaining and managing estate assets
- Processing and paying valid creditor claims
- Inventorying the real property and personal property and having it appraised
- Providing a copy of the inventory and appraisals to the beneficiaries
- Determining which assets should be sold and which should be distributed outright to beneficiaries
- Filing a final income tax return for the deceased
- Filing a Federal Estate Tax Return if the estate exceeded the federal estate tax exemption
- Disbursing the money and property to the beneficiaries
- Closing the estate
If a non-resident of Colorado dies owning real property or titled personal property located in this state, an ancillary proceeding may be required to properly distribute the property to the beneficiaries. In instances where a Personal Representative or Executor has already been appointed in another state, he or she may utilize a simplified process to handle estate matters. However, if no appointment has been made, real property of any amount that is titled in the name of the decedent is subject to probate in Colorado. However, titled personal property valued at less than $64,000 can be distributed in a simplified manner without formal or informal probate.
The James A. Littlepage Law Offices can Assist You with Probate Administration
The James A. Littlepage Law Offices provides personalized probate services including handling Informal, Formal and Ancillary Probate Proceedings. Attorney James Littlepage has provided outstanding service to over 2,500 clients during more than 40 years of experience, and he was recognized in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 with a
FIVE STAR Award, in multiple financial categories, as seen in
ColoradoBiz magazines. To retain his caring and effective counsel,
contact our firm today!