Unparalleled Guidance In Colorado Uncontested Probate
After a loved one dies, it is common for the estate to have to go through what is called “probate.” Probate is the process that the state requires, regardless of whether there is a will, to distribute assets to the heirs because the assets are still held in the name of the person who died and there is no other way besides opening probate to get those assets properly transferred.
In some cases, all the assets are in joint accounts, in a trust or have assigned beneficiaries, and so there is nothing to process. Then probate can be avoided. Also, if the assets held by the decedent are not real estate, in some cases opening probate is not necessary because you can make the transfer by a “small estate affidavit.”
When an estate does require probate, it can be exceedingly helpful to have legal guidance and oversight. The team at Pearman Law Firm, P.C. will provide skilled, experienced guidance through this process. You will have the information and explanations you need to ensure an efficient process.
What Is Uncontested Probate?
When none of the heirs disagree with how the assets are to be distributed, the probate process is relatively smooth. This is called uncontested probate.
Of course, every estate is different. After the death of a family member, their assets (bank accounts, retirement accounts, possessions and real property) need to be distributed.
There are typically two categories within an estate: probated assets and non-probated assets. Some accounts, such as joint accounts, life insurance policies, transfer on death accounts, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or 401(k)s may have named beneficiaries. These are non-probated. Other accounts and other real property, such as a house, expensive car or an art collection, may not have an assigned beneficiary. These will then have to go through probate. We also serve clients in contested probate matters.
The Basic Probate Process
There are several steps involved in the Colorado probate process. As noted, every estate has different assets, so no two timelines are exactly the same. The minimum amount of time before closing a probate case is six months. Large estates with complex assets can take longer. But, once the personal representative (formerly called an executor) is appointed, that person can begin transferring assets right away if needed.
Typically, the probate process will involve the following steps:
- An application is filed with court to have the personal representative appointed. This happens if the person died with or without a Will.
- The Clerk of the Court will appoint the Personal Representative, usually without the need for a hearing.
- Once appointed, the Personal Representative gives notice to the heirs or beneficiaries that he or she has been appointed by the Court.
- The Personal Representative will publish a notice to unknown creditors in a local newspaper to give them deadline to file any claims within four months of publication.
- The Personal Representative gathers and inventories the assets, collects moneys owed, pays necessary debts and bills, files necessary tax returns, and otherwise gets the estate ready for distribution and then closing.
- The Personal Representative will distribute the assets to the rightful persons.
- Once this process is completed the estate is officially closed.
It is important to note that a Personal Representative (executor) has a fiduciary duty; this means that the executor is personally liable for mistakes. As attorneys who have extensive experience with a wide range of estate planning issues, we are able to offer a broad perspective on this process to help protect you and the estate.
Understand The Process And How We Can Help
Our Wheat Ridge team is ready to help you move your loved one’s estate through the Colorado probate process. We offer accessible and professional legal guidance. Call the firm today at 720-259-9528.