How Probate Laws Work in Colorado

You may be wondering what to do if you recently lost a family member. After the initial tasks of preparing a funeral or memorial service and taking care of immediate financial and legal issues, you must deal with the task of dissolving the estate. This process must be accomplished through probate.

Probate is a legal term that stipulates estates of deceased persons must go through the court and follow either the guidelines of the will or the laws of the state if there was no will. If you are involved in any way with a family member’s estate, you need to understand the laws of Colorado for probate.

Is Probate Required in Colorado?

In most cases, some type of probate is required for estates in Colorado. If the value of the estate is less than $65,000, it may go through an affidavit process with the court rather than probate. Most estates will go through informal probate where the court monitors the case but doesn’t get involved. Formal probate requires more supervision by the court.

How Do You Avoid Probate in Colorado?

The best way to avoid going through probate in Colorado is to put all assets into a living trust before you die. This trust becomes a separate entity from the owner of the assets, which means it continues even after they pass away. The beneficiaries of the trust receive the assets after the death of the loved one with no need to go to court for approval. Another method is by providing beneficiaries for certain assets, such as bank accounts, life insurance policies and retirement accounts, which are payable on death.

How Much Does an Executor Get Paid in Colorado?

While the Colorado statutes on probate allow for compensation, it is only referred to as reasonable with no specific amount given. However, it does allow the court to consider all the factors in determining what is reasonable. The court can give more or less weight to certain factors, such as time involved and amount of work in managing the estate, as well as difficulty and skills needed. The court can also consider if the management of the estate prevented the person from being engaged in other employment. Another consideration is how much other estates have paid out for similar situations.

Can an Executor of an Estate in Colorado Be Compensated?

The Colorado Revised Statutes allows for the executor of an estate to be compensated for their time and expenses in managing an estate. This includes attorneys, accountants as well as family members or others who manage the dispersal of the estate.

How Long Does Probate Take in Colorado?

Length of time for probate to be completed varies in Colorado. The minimum time for formal and informal probate is six months by law. However, it can take much longer for an estate to be ready for distribution, depending on the size, complexity and any issues that may arise. It’s possible that probate could be open for a year or even several years.

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Colorado?

Most estates have to go through probate in Colorado unless the assets have been put in a trust or there is a payable on death beneficiary listed. However, there are three types of probate in the state. Which one an estate must follow will depend on several factors. Small estates can get an affidavit from the court rather than opening probate. A small estate is defined as one with a value of less than $50,000 and no real property included.

A second option is an informal probate, which means the will isn’t contested. The estate must still go through probate, but the court has very little involvement. The personal representative handles all the tasks involved in dispersing the estate. The third option is formal probate for contested or questionable wills. The court must provide clear guidance and approval for every step of the process.

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Colorado?

Yes, a will must be probated even if the estate doesn’t need to go through probate. The court must still provide an affidavit saying that the heirs have a legal claim on the property, which cannot be done unless a will is available and entered into court.

Settling an Estate in Colorado

Settling an estate in Colorado is similar to any other state. The main difference is in the deadlines and other details of the process. While the steps make it sound easy, probate is often quite complicated and time-consuming.

How Long Do You Have to File Probate in Colorado?

According to the Colorado Revised Statutes Title 15 Chapter 12, probate must be filed within three years of the estate owner’s death. There are a few limited exceptions, including if a previous proceeding had been dismissed or if a person went missing and wasn’t declared dead until later.

Probate Court in Colorado

In Colorado, the district courts handle probate cases. Denver is the exception to this rule with a separate probate court and judge appointed.

Probate Code in Colorado

Probate in Colorado is governed by the Colorado Revised Statutes Title 15, which deals with probate, trusts, and fiduciaries. You can also find out information on the instructions for filing probate on the Colorado Judicial Branch website: