How Do Probate Laws in Colorado Work?

When a loved one passes away, there are a variety of steps that must be taken afterward. One of the final steps is to dissolve the estate, which in Colorado, must be done through probate. Probate simply means that the division of an estate must go through the court and follow the guidelines of the deceased’s will or the laws of the state if the deceased did not have a will. It is vital to understand the laws of probate in Colorado if your loved one has recently passed, or if you are planning on getting your affairs in order.

How Does Probate Work?

Most estates go through informal probate, where the court is not directly involved but instead monitors the process. Formal probate may be necessary if creditors are involved or if someone contests the deceased’s will.

Regardless of the type of probate, the process can be lengthy, depending on a variety of factors, such as the complexity of the estate, the presence of a will, whether creditors object to the treatment of their claim, or whether someone contests the will. In some cases, the probate process can be completed in as little as 6 months, though it can often take much longer.

Can You Avoid Probate?

Probate can be a complicated and lengthy process, so many people might wonder if they can avoid the process altogether. An individual can avoid the probate process in a few ways, including the following:

  • The deceased’s assets have been put in a living trust
  • The deceased’s property is jointly owned by another surviving owner
  • The deceased used estate planning tools such as payable-on-death accounts, transfer-on-death securities, transfer-on-death vehicle registration, and transfer-on-death deeds

Simply having a will does not mean an individual will avoid probate. Estate planning tools are some of the more common ways of avoiding probate in Colorado. Typically, an individual will work with an estate planning attorney to see what is legally feasible. Having a competent and experienced attorney that you trust is vital to begin the estate planning process.

How Does Estate Planning Work in Colorado?

Estate planning involves many different steps, such as executing wills, healthcare directives, and other documents. It may also include implementing the strategies listed above to attempt to avoid probate.

  • Payable-on-death accounts are specifically for financial accounts. An individual can speak with their bank to complete a form that allows them to designate a payable-on-demand beneficiary, such as an heir.
  • Transfer-on-death securities can be used for certain stocks and bonds. An individual can speak with their brokerage company to receive a form to list the beneficiary on their stocks and bonds.
  • Transfer-on-death vehicle registration can be helpful for individuals who have paid off their car. They can have it registered with a transfer-on-death beneficiary to avoid probate on their vehicle.
  • Transfer-on-death deeds in Colorado can be prepared and recorded during the estate planning process for property, such as a house. When this deed is recorded, the property can be left to a beneficiary.

Estate planning can be a complicated process, but it is worth it if you do not wish to go through probate. It’s also an effective way to make sure that your wishes are carried out, ensuring that your family never has to guess what you would have wanted. Contact an experienced and knowledgeable Loveland, CO estate planning attorney to ensure that your affairs are in order.