When a family member or loved one passes away, you may be responsible for settling his or her estate and probating his or her will. Probate is the legal process for transferring your loved one's assets to the appropriate heirs and beneficiaries.
While probate and estate settlement can be costly, time-consuming and, at times, very confusing, working with us can help make the process go much more smoothly ― not to mention alleviate a lot of stress.
For legal guidance you can trust, contact The Hughes Law Firm. Our attorneys have been helping Colorado families since 1974, so let us put our extensive experience and knowledge to work for you.
We Can Help You Every Step Of The Way
Whether your loved one's estate is complex or relatively simple, our lawyers will explain your legal responsibilities and help guide you through the often confusing probate/estate settlement process, including issues related to:
- Identifying and safeguarding estate property: Even though it can be difficult to remember all of the property your loved one may have owned, as the settlor of the estate ― also known as a personal representative or executor ― you should secure all assets, prepare a complete inventory and obtain values. One thing you should also do is contact your loved one's employer to find out if they offered death benefits and to ask about 401(k)s, IRAs, pension and stock benefits.
- Identifying heirs: You should also gather the names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and relationships of any possible heirs. Include any children and siblings of your loved one who may already be deceased (because the children, nieces and nephews of those individuals may now be entitled to an inheritance).
- Identifying creditors: Contrary to popular belief, it is incorrect to think that your loved one's debt will simply be forgiven upon his or her death. In fact, there is a hierarchy established in the Colorado Probate Code specifying which creditors have priority over other creditors. If, as the personal representative, you fail to abide by these rules, you may be held personally accountable.
- Resolving disputes: Unfortunately, not all estates are settled without disputes. Indeed, disputes may arise for a variety of reasons, including when beneficiaries disagree or when the personal representative is dealing with an outdated will. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, litigation may even be necessary. In any case, we can help.
- Taxes: While smaller estates are not subject to state or federal death taxes in Colorado, if the estate is valued at more than $5.45 million, some hefty taxes may come into play. However, it is important to remember that this tax-free limit can change every year, which is why you should always talk to us for clarification.
- Settling trusts: In some cases, you may be responsible for settling a deceased loved one's trust, which has its own set of complex duties and responsibilities.
- Seeking conservatorships/guardianships: If your loved one has not yet passed, but is incapacitated in some way ― either mentally or physically ― we can help you seek conservatorship to manage his or her financial affairs or, alternatively, guardianship, which can give you control over his or her personal decisions.
Need Help With Real Estate? We Can Do That Too.
Whether you are an heir trying to sell a home you inherited or a senior seeking to downsize as you transition into an assisted living facility, our sister company, Your Legacy, LLC ― a full-service real estate brokerage firm ― may be able to help.
Call Us For Your Free 20-Minute Consult Today
Since the steps discussed above are merely a few of the things you need to be aware of as the person responsible for settling a loved one's estate, it is always a good idea to contact The Hughes Law Firm when you need experienced, skilled advice.
We have been doing this for more than 40 years, so contact us today for your free 20-minute phone consult and learn how we can help you. You can also reach us online or by phone at 303-409-3559. We have offices in Denver, Fort Collins and throughout Colorado.