ProbateProbate is a legal proceeding in which a deceased person's property is distributed to his or her heirs. At Steamboat Lawyers Group, PLLC we are here to assist at every step of the process, from the appointment of the administrator of an estate to the final distribution of assets. We offer experienced, compassionate counsel, respectful of both emotional and legal needs. Our commitment is to work through any will contests with sensitivity and proficiency.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process for distribution of assets after death. Under Colorado law, all wills and intestate estates must be probated. The beneficiaries of the estate are designated by the deceased in a will. If there is no will, the heirs are designated by Colorado law. Probate proceedings are governed by the law of the state where the deceased person maintained legal residence at the time of death as well as by the probate law of any other state where the deceased owned property at the time of death.
In Colorado there are three types of probates for both wills and intestate estate:
- Small estates (under $50,000 and no real property),
- Uncontested estates ("Informal Probate"), and
- Contested estates and invalid or questionable wills ("Formal Probate").
The Probate proceeding is handled by the District Court in the county of the deceased's residence. A personal representative is appointed to oversee the estate and, who, after payment of the deceased's debts, taxes and administrative expenses, distributes the deceased's property to the heirs or beneficiaries. All wills and intestate estates must be probated, but the degree of court involvement depends on the complexity of each case.
Probate includes appraising the property and paying debts and taxes before the property is distributed to beneficiaries according to the will. Steamboat Lawyers Group, PLLC can assist with any of the following probate matters:
- Proving the validity of the will
- Naming an executor to handle matters
- Determination of estate size and nature of proceeding
- Notifying creditors
- Publishing legal notices
- Appraisal and/or selling property if appropriate
- Preparation of accountings
- Distributing assets
- Paying off debts and taxes
Estates not subject to Probate:
Depending on how your assets are owned, your estate may not have to go through the probate process because your will may not control the distribution of some or all of your assets. There are certain types of assets that are not governed or distributed per the terms of a will. Only property that was owned by you in your individual name (and that does not have a beneficiary designation) is controlled by the will. Probate is not necessary for assets held as "joint tenants with rights of survivorship" or assets governed by a contractual designation of beneficiary such as a life insurance policy or a 401(k) plan.
It should be noted, however, that Colorado law requires that a decedent's will be filed (lodged) with the District Court in which the decedent was domiciled within ten days of the decedent's passing, even if no probate administration is expected.
When a probate case turns into a litigation matter, the legal issues change significantly. What was once an ordinary trust or estate has become a complicated, contested lawsuit. At Steamboat Lawyers Group, we understand the complex legal issues that can and do arise in probate litigation. We also recognize that probate matters can be very emotional and hinge on sensitive issues. We are here to assist you.
We handle a wide variety of probate litigation issues, including:
- Will contests
- Undue influence and incapacity claims
- Interference with inheritance rights
- Creditor disputes
- Trust disputes
- Family partnerships
- Interpretation of document language
- Fiduciary or trustee misconduct
We can also assist you with the filing of your ancillary probate, which is applicable when the decedent dies in another state but owns property in Colorado. In that case, we would open an ancillary probate in the county in which property is located to administer and distribute the Colorado assets of the decedent to the appropriate heirs.