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How does the probate process work?

Whether you have lost a loved one or a close family friend has named you as administrator of his or her estate, you may be required to enter into the probate process. During probate in Colorado, the estate left behind by the deceased is valued, and the property is distributed to the heirs named in the will. Understanding how probate works is critical, as it may simplify the process for you and for the beneficiaries of the estate.

Depending on the unique circumstances surrounding the situation, you may enter into one of three types of probates. Small estate probates are designated for cases where the property values at less than $50,000. Informal probate are used for uncontested estates, or estates where there are no disputes over property and/or assets. Finally, formal probates are reserved for estates that involve questionable, unclear or invalid wills. This type of probate may also be enacted when it is unclear who the beneficiaries are or when there are property title disputes and other challenges during the division of the estate. While small estate probates are often simple and may move through the system rather quickly, informal and formal probates may stay open with the court for a minimum of six months.

No matter what your situation involves, all estates must go through the probate process. During this time, creditors are able to come forward to claim unpaid debts, and named heirs are able to collect the property and/or assets that they are entitled to. The administrator, or executor, of the estate is responsible for overseeing this entire process.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.