Understanding Colorado Probate: A Brief Overview

Probate is the legal process of distributing a deceased person’s property and it plays a crucial role in estate administration.

Let’s explore the essentials:

1. Personal Representative and Intestate Succession

  • A Colorado court will appoint a personal representative who administers the probate estate.
  • If the decedent had no will (died intestate), Colorado law designates how probate assets pass:
    • First to surviving spouse and children.
    • Specific provisions for blended families.
    • If no spouse or children, parents, siblings, and other relatives inherit.

2. Probate vs. Non-Probate Assets

  • Probate Assets: Go through formal probate.
  • Non-Probate Assets: Transfer outside probate (e.g., life insurance, joint tenancy, trusts).
  • When a person’s probate assets are valued under a specific amount, Colorado law allows the assets to be distributed without opening a probate estate with the court. For a person who died in 2022, probate is not required when the value of their probate assets is below $74,000 and the decedent did not own any real property.

3. Opening a Probate Estate

  • Informal: No hearing; specific circumstances.
  • Formal: Disputes over will, inheritance, or personal representative.
  • Administrative: Court closes estate after 3 years of inactivity.

4. Common Questions

  • Nominated Personal Representative: Limited authority before court appointment.
  • Choosing a Personal Representative: Prioritization based on familial relationship.
  • Trusts: Managed differently from wills; trustee responsible for distributions.
  • Legal Assistance: Attorneys provide guidance, document preparation, and representation.

Probate: The legal process by which a deceased person’s assets are distributed after death. Probate is also known as estate administration.
Decedent: The legal term for the person who has died.
Personal Representative: The person appointed by a Colorado court to administer a probate estate.
Intestate: A decedent died without a will.
Testate: A decedent died with a will.

Additional Resources:
•So Now You Are a Personal Representative brochure
•Colorado Senior Law Handbook
•Colorado courts website for Judicial Department Forms and Instructions
•Use the Colorado Bar Association Licensed Lawyer website to search for a lawyer: https://www.cobar.org/Licensed-Lawyer

Remember, understanding Colorado probate ensures a smoother process during challenging times. Seek legal advice to navigate this intricate landscape effectively. An attorney with experience in estate administration can provide advice about legal rights and options, prepare legal documents, and represent people in court.

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If legal advice or other expert or professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person licensed in your area should be sought.