Probate is the process by which an estate is closed after the estate owner’s death. A simple probate usually takes about a year to complete and consists of validating a will, inventorying assets, paying debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Let’s take a look at what the court process for probate looks like in Wheat Ridge, Arvada, and Jefferson County.
Steps in the Probate Process in Arvada, Golden, and Wheat Ridge
1. Filing the Will and Opening the Probate Case: The first step in the probate process is to file the will with the probate court and open the estate. The person who is the chosen personal representative or executor of the will is responsible for starting this process. In the cases where there is no will, the court will assign someone to handle the estate.
2. Formal Letter of Appointment: Then, the court will issue a letter of appointment to the personal representative or executor. This formal document will allow this chosen person to act on the behalf of the estate. It will allow them to verify their right to make decisions, should anyone have questions. For example, if the personal representative was trying to discuss insurance or banking accounts related to the estate, this letter would be necessary before the companies would communicate with the representative.
3. Estate Administration: The next step is the estate administration. This is the lengthiest part of the probate process, where the executor takes inventory of all the assets. He or she is responsible for filing and paying any final taxes on the estate. If during the mandatory six month waiting period, any creditors came forward with claims or any known debts were identified, then the representative is responsible for getting those paid with the estate. After all this is taken care of, then the remaining assets can be distributed to the named heirs and beneficiaries.
4. Close the Probate Case: The final step is to close the probate case with the Jefferson County Court. The executor has a choice here: an informal closing or a formal closing. An informal closing allows for a period of time where someone can challenge the administration of the estate. For a formal closing, the court orders that the executor be released from liability and that the estate was administered correctly.