How The Probate Process Works
At The Law Firm of Bruce A. Danford, LLC, in Broomfield, we have successfully guided countless families through the probate process in Colorado.
How the process works depends on several factors, one of which is whether the person who passed away (the decedent) left a will or not. Another factor is whether or not disputes arise. A third factor is the value of the assets left behind. If the decedent left less than $66,000* worth of assets behind, his or her successor can claim and distribute those assets through a simple affidavit.
However, by far the most common probate process is informal administration. In fact, nine out of 10 estates in Colorado are settled through this method. Following are some common questions and answers about informal administration:
Will I Have To Appear In Court?
With the informal process, it is unlikely that you will actually have to show up in the courtroom. This is good news for most people.
What Kind Of Paperwork Must I File?
As the personal representative, you must file one of two applications (depending on whether there is a will or not) in the appropriate county. The court will issue certain important papers to you in return. You will also have to submit an inventory of assets to the court. At the end of the process, you will have to file a closing statement.
What Other Duties Do I Have?
You will need to notify the decedent’s creditors, which includes posting a notice in a local county newspaper. You will also need to create an inventory of the decedent’s assets, pay off the creditors and distribute the remaining assets to the appropriate heirs.
Do I Need An Attorney?
If you have been named as the personal representative, it would be wise to engage the assistance of a lawyer. Why? Because there are numerous legal steps you must take and various responsibilities that will rest on your shoulders.
You will probably be able to do most of the work yourself, but having a professional adviser on your side can streamline the process, reduce your stress, ensure you meet important deadlines and minimize the likelihood that you would ever be accused of breach of fiduciary duty or another wrongdoing.
*As of 2017. The amount typically increases from year to year.