Probate is the court-supervised process for distributing an individual’s assets after they pass away. There are six steps to the probate process. First, a personal representative must be appointed. Any beneficiary, heir, or creditor of the estate can apply to be a personal representative. There’s a statutory list of who will be assigned a personal representative duty first, but if that first individual does not step up to be a personal representative, another individual can step in to serve as a personal representative of the estate. Once a personal representative of the estate has been appointed, it is their duty than to perform an inventory of the assets inside of the estate, they have to report to the court a list of all of the assets, real estate, bank accounts, personal property that the individual who passed away owned at the time of their passing. Next, all of these state assets must be liquidated.
Real estate must be sold, bank accounts must all be to deposited into an estate account. Then any creditors or outstanding debts must either be paid or settled. A small probate tip, if you receive a credit card statement, don’t pay that right away after someone passes away because typically in the probate setting you can negotiate a settlement with the credit card companies to get a reduced debt. A licensed probate attorney can help you negotiate your debts on behalf of an individual who’s passed away. The next step in the process is to perform accounting. The court will need to know what has come into the estate, what has gone out of the estate, and then you can make distributions to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will or if there’s not a will, then in accordance with the default and laws. And finally, once all assets have been distributed, all creditors have been paid. You can then file paperwork to close the estate. Probate in Colorado is required to take six months and can run anywhere from six months to two years depending on the size of the state, the complexity, and how quickly the court is able to process the documents that we sent to them. If you have any questions about probating an estate in Colorado, please feel free to give my office a call anytime.