When a loved one passes away with a signed will for their estate plan or if they had no estate planning documents in place (defined in the Colorado Probate Code as dying intestate), their estate goes through a legal court proceeding known as probate. The primary purpose of probate is to transfer the deceased’s estate assets to beneficiaries. Probate also allows creditors of the estate a process through which their claims can be recorded and satisfied.
The length of time needed to complete probate of an estate depends on many factors, including the size and types of assets of the estate and the legal docket schedule of the probate court. While every probate estate is unique, most probate estates involve the following steps:
- Filing a petition to open a probate estate with the appropriate probate court;
- Filing a petition to appoint a Personal Representative to oversee the administration of the probate estate;
- Notifying all estate beneficiaries and estate creditors that an estate has been opened;
- Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by the Personal Representative;
- Sale of estate assets;
- Payment of estate debts to the appropriate estate creditors;
- Payment of estate taxes, if applicable;
- Final distribution of estate assets to beneficiaries.
While the CO probate process can be handled by a Personal Representative without the assistance of an attorney, many individuals find it necessary, particularly in a difficult time, to seek legal guidance in making the appropriate court filings. This in turn ensures that all legal requirements of the probate process are met and limits the legal liability of a Personal Representative. At Mills Schmitz Halstead & Zaloudek, we can help you navigate the legal process of probate in a professional and accountable manner.
If a loved-one passes away and had a well-drafted and properly funded living trust in place, it is likely that no court-overseen administration is necessary. Yet the named trustee is still required to administer the distribution of the deceased’s assets, but this process is typically a much simpler process that is not conducted through a probate court system.
Trust administration is different depending on the trusts an individual signed, but generally trust administration involves the following steps:
- Gathering the assets;
- Registering the trust with the applicable district court;
- Obtaining trust Tax Identification numbers from the IRS;
- Distributing the trust assets.
At Mills Schmitz Halstead & Zaloudek, not only can we assist with the trust administration process, but we can serve as a named trustee to ensure the provisions of your trust are carried-out in accordance with your wishes.