Understanding the probate process

| Feb 14, 2021 | Probate & Estate Administration |

When a loved one or dear friend dies, not only is it an emotional time, but it may also be confusing as to how to administer the estate. Probate is the legal process to distribute the decedent’s property and other assets.

In Colorado, probate can range from simple to complicated, depending on the type of probate. Although all estates go through probate, not all require court involvement.

Types of probate

According to the Denver Bar Association, probate is not necessary if the assets have a beneficiary designation or there is joint tenancy on property and financial accounts. All other estates need to go through some sort of probate.

The small estates category is for those that contain no real property and have $50,000 or less in assets. No court action is necessary, and heirs collect assets through an affidavit.

Uncontested estates refers to those in which there is a valid will, and no one is contesting it. An executor administers the estate, and the court only plays a limited role.

When there is a will, but it is questionable or contested, this is a contested estate. The court may involve itself in all transactions or may give the executor more leeway.

The minimum time for both contested and uncontested probates is six months, although it is common for estate administration to last longer than that.

Role of the estate executor

The estate executor is an important player in the probate process. The decedent may name this person in the will, or the court will name someone. According to the Colorado State Archives, an executor is responsible for identifying and locating all assets, liquidating assets to pay debts and bills, paying taxes and distributing assets and property to the named heirs.