What are the steps in the probate process?

When a person passes away, their personal representative is held responsible for administering their probate estate. To open and administer the decedent’s estate, they must go through the probate process. This process can be daunting without help from a Denver probate lawyer from Colorado Estate Matters.

what are the steps in the probate process

How does probate work in Colorado?

The purpose of probate is to establish a complete record of all a decedent’s assets and debts. Generally, a personal representative, or executor, is tasked with the duty of settling and distributing a decedent’s estate.

Through the probate process, they have several primary duties, including gathering the decedent’s assets, reviewing claims filed by their creditors, and paying their debts and final expenses. Once these actions are finished, the personal representative can begin distributing the remaining assets to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries.

What are the probate actions in Colorado?

There are three main probate processes in Colorado. These processes have the same goals, but the way each works is different. The main probate actions in the state are:

  • Small estate process: This includes estates that have less than $80,000 in personal property and no real property.
  • Informal estate process: This includes estates that are uncontested and typically include a valid will or, in cases where the decedent dies without a will, no contests are expected.
  • Formal estate process: This includes estates involving wills that are contested, unclear, or invalid. It may also apply to situations involving difficulties identifying heirs or disputes with property titles.

What are the steps to probate a will in Colorado?

To probate a will in Colorado, the personal representative must first determine whether the decedent’s estate qualifies as formal or informal. Then, they must complete and file specific forms, depending on the type. A personal representative must take the following steps for probate in Colorado:

  1. Open a probate estate. While an informal estate doesn’t usually require a hearing, a formal estate may if any of the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries object to the forms filed with the court.
  2. Provide beneficiaries with notice of the personal representative’s appointment.
  3. Obtain a tax ID number and open a bank account for the estate.
  4. Notify the decedent’s creditors of the creditor claim period via mail or publication in the local newspaper. Creditors include utility companies, credit card companies, healthcare providers, the agency providing funeral services, and the IRS, among others.
  5. Secure and collect the decedent’s assets, and prepare an inventory.
  6. File federal and state tax returns for the decedent, if necessary.
  7. Pay all expenses of the estate’s administration, including burial expenses and professional fees.
  8. When the creditor claim period expires, negotiate and pay their claims.
  9. Close the estate. For informal estates, the court should be notified that all requirements have been completed. For formal estates, an accounting for proposed final distributions should be provided to the court, and a hearing scheduled.
  10. Make final distributions of remaining assets to the heirs and beneficiaries.

What are the steps of probate without a will in Colorado?

If a person in Colorado dies intestate (without a will), who will serve as the decedent’s personal representative is based on their familial relationship. The personal representative should consult with a probate attorney in Denver to determine whether an estate needs to be opened and, if so, whether it needs to be informal or formal.

If an estate is opened, the steps are similar to those for probating a will. However, state law will determine who receives the decedent’s remaining assets.

How can a lawyer help me understand the steps of probate in Colorado?

There are many complexities to the Colorado probate process. A Denver probate attorney at Colorado Estate Matters can listen to your concerns and the details of your situation, advising you of your options.

They can help you through every step of the complex process, from completing forms to advising you on how to best administer the estate. Contact us at (303) 713-9147 for a free consultation to discuss the steps in the probate process.

Schedule your free consultation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.