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While most probate cases do not require an attorney, the process can be difficult to understand depending on the circumstances around the decedent’s estate. Our probate services provide assistance to executors/executrices and administrators by helping them navigate common obstacles, such as:
- Administration of the probate process as an executor or administrator
- Representation during contested wills or creditor objections
- Understanding document requirements
- Obtaining court letters for scheduled hearings
Our probate services strive to make the process as smooth as possible and help alleviate common questions or problems that executors or administrators experience throughout this ordeal.
Contact one of our attorneys with any questions or concerns you may have about the probate process. We’ll answer them to our fullest knowledge and get you started during our free consultation with you.
What is Probate & is it Required?
What is it?
Probate is the process whereby a court of law determines whether to accept a will as the valid and true testament of the deceased. After the will is proved to be valid—or invalid—the court collects and accounts for the decedent’s assets. All liabilities of the deceased are collected and arranged, and the assets are distributed among the beneficiaries named in the will. In more complex scenarios, the court distributes assets among multiple heirs.
Is it Required?
Probate isn’t required in the state of Colorado if the deceased had a small estate valued under $66,000 and did not own any real property. If the deceased, however, had a larger estate with valuable property requiring distribution between heirs, then probate is required. If the will is valid with no contest, probate is often relatively smooth and takes around nine months. If the will is contested, unclear, or invalid—or if the deceased was intestate (i.e., died without a will)—the process can take up to two years or more.
What Are the Different Steps During Probate?
Probate law is often complicated and requires multiple steps before a court can settle an estate. We outline the most basic steps of the process below.
Step 1: File a Death Certificate to Probate Court
An executor or representative of the decedent’s estate must submit a death certificate along with the will to probate courts. In Colorado, the personal representative must complete this step within ten days of the estate holder’s death.
Step 2: Will Validation
If a will exists for the deceased, the court will authenticate it and ensure that the document is the last will and testament of the deceased. If the court accepts the will as valid, they officially appoint the executor/executrix named in the will and grant them the legal power to act on behalf of the deceased. In the event the will is deemed invalid, the court appoints an administrator instead.
Step 3: Post Probate Bond
Unless the will waives the usage of a bond, the court will require the executor to procure a bond for beneficiaries and creditors.
Step 4: Inform Creditors and Beneficiaries of Probate
The executor must inform creditors and beneficiaries named in the will of the decedent’s passing and that the estate is going under probate. Creditors in Colorado have a one-year statute of limitations from the date of death to submit their claims against the estate.
Step 5: Appraise and Determine the Value of Estate
The executor must appraise the value of the estate and determine its full amount. Property could include homes, vehicles, land—anything determined to have significant value.
Step 6: Pay Remaining Liabilities
Liabilities held by the estate such as taxes, medical bills, credit card bills, etc. must be paid to creditors. Executors can dispute or settle claims made by creditors at this time as well.
Step 7: Distribute Assets to Beneficiaries
At this point, once debts and liabilities are settled, the executor must distribute the assets named in the decedent’s will to the chosen beneficiaries. If the will is intestate, the probate court must select the heirs and distribute the assets according to state laws.
Step 8: Close Probate Procedures
Once all liabilities are settled and assets are distributed, then the executor must file a final accounting document with the court to close the probate process. Once accepted, the court discharges the executor/executrix and formally closes the probate estate.
Call An Experienced Attorney
Our lawyers will review your case details and give you a clear plan for how we can help. We represent clients throughout Northern Colorado, including Fort Collins, Greeley, Fort Morgan, and Sterling. Call our law firm or send an email to talk to a professional and understanding attorney.