Probate can be an expensive and time-consuming process, but it does not have to be. As a matter of fact, the majority of estates in Colorado go through an informal, administrative probate process. 

Three types of probate may take place in Colorado. The size of the estate and the validity of the estate plan determine which type will apply in your case. 

1. Formal probate

Unlike some other states, Colorado does not necessarily require formal probate for a large estate. It is usually only when there is a question of the validity of the will or a challenge involved in fulfilling it that formal probate must take place. It may also be necessary in the case of intestacy, which occurs when a person dies without making out a will. However, this is not always required. 

2. Informal probate

As opposed to formal probate, the court’s involvement in informal probate is minimal. Informal probate can take place when there is no will but the rules of intestate succession clearly apply and the court can readily appoint a qualified personal representative. A valid will that names an eligible personal representative also qualifies for informal probate. It is when contests to the will are likely that the formal probate process must take place in lieu of informal probate. 

3. Small estates

A small estate in Colorado is one with no real property and with personal assets valued at less than $50,000. Rather than opening a probate action through the court, your heirs and devisees can collect assets by filing an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property and bypass probate altogether. The person who files the affidavit, i.e., the affiant, must swear to distribute it to all other entitled heirs or devisees. 

In Colorado, the more expensive formal probate process is not always necessary. One of the best ways to avoid it is to create a comprehensive estate plan.