Denver Probate & Estate Administration Lawyer
Handling the Legal Issues in a Loved One’s Death
Probate is a court procedure for settling the estate of a deceased person designed to ensure 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 intestate, without a will or trust, his or her estate goes to the closest living relatives.
Under Colorado law a person's estate is subject to probate if he or she dies owning titled personal property valued at $64,000 or more or 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.
Types of Probate
Depending on circumstances, a probate may be handled either formally or informally, and may be supervised or unsupervised by the court. If the deceased had a well-drafted will and there are no disputes among heirs, the personal representative can opt for an unsupervised, informal probate.
However, if there are issues or the whereabouts of an heir is unknown, the estate must go through formal court probate, which is more time-consuming and complicated because the personal representative must file reports and a detailed accounting prior to disbursing the funds to the beneficiaries.
Duties of the Personal Representative During Probate
The daily administration of a deceased’s estate typically is handled by the attorney for the personal representative, or the person named by the decedent to handle the administration of the estate.
Once the personal representative has been appointed by the court, they are responsible for the following:
- Notifying heirs that the estate has been opened
- Publishing a notice to creditors advising them when and where claims must be filed
- Establishing a bank account for the estate and keeping a ledger of all funds
- 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
- Filing a final income tax return for the deceased
- Filing a federal estate tax return if the estate exceeded the tax exemption
- Disbursing 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 the 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 is subject to probate in Colorado.
No matter what your circumstances, the James A. Littlepage Law Offices provides personalized probate services including handling informal, formal, and ancillary proceedings. Attorney James Littlepage has provided outstanding service to over 2,500 clients over 40 years of legal experience.
To retain his caring and effective counsel, contact our firm today!