Ever wondered what will happen to your property in Colorado, once you are no longer in this world? Well, it is likely to go through a process called Probate. It is a legal term that refers to the settlement of an estate or assets of a deceased person by the court. Not all estates have to go through this process, though. If your estate’s value is under the “small estates” limit in Colorado, all your representative needs to do is fill out a few forms before distributing the assets. If you have a deceased family member who has left a considerable estate or is simply curious about the fate of your estate after you are gone. The following steps are part of the Colorado Probate Process and will help you understand this process better.
If you create a “living trust” for your estate, a probate will not be necessary. If you have written a will, the process will become simpler. Your will determines the distribution of your assets. However, if a will is not written, or is being contested, a “formal probate” will be necessary. This involves complete supervision of valuation of assets via executor, payment of any liabilities and distribution. Probate allows the heirs a chance to settle disputes and challenge the validity of creditor’s claims.
If a will is present, the personal representative or executor will be designated. In case the decedent has not left a will, the court will appoint an executor. The court will issue him or her “Letters of Administration” or “Letters Testamentary”. The representative will take an oath of office and will get authority to act on behalf of the estate. He will then fill out the proper forms requesting to open the probate case.
The next step is to notify all the family members, heirs and other people who might have any claims to the estate. The creditors must also be informed of the commencement of the Colorado probate process. It is important to make the process public to let the creditors file the claim against the estate within a specified period.
Inventorying and appraising the assets of the estate is the next step in the Colorado probate process. The executor performs this important task. The appraisal allows the determination of the total value of the property. The personal representative needs to collect and appraise the assets to ensure all the property is available for distribution.
The appraisal of assets gives a good idea of the value of the estate to be distributed among the claimants. Liabilities, like outstanding debts for the estate, estate taxes and administration costs including legal advertising, appraisal fees, and attorney fees, are paid out of the estate.
Once all the liabilities and claims have been settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries. If the deceased left a will, the assets are disbursed according to his wishes. In the absence of a will, the court and the laws dictate the procedure for distribution.
The last step in the Colorado probate process is the official closing of the case. Once all the claims are settled and the property is distributed, the personal representative submits specific forms verifying all the necessary administration and disbursement activities. The court officially closes the case. Depending on the complexity, the Colorado probate process can take anywhere from 3 months to a year.
The Colorado probate process is a necessary legal procedure that can ensure proper distribution of assets among the beneficiaries of an estate.