COLORADO PROBATE FAQs

What is probate?

  • It is the legal process that conveys property after someone dies.

What is informal probate?

  • If there is a valid will, informal probate allows the Personal Representative (also known as an Executor or Executrix or a PR) to follow the wishes of the deceased with less oversight from a judge and no hearings.

What is formal probate?

  • If there is no will, or the will is invalid or if there is a dispute over the will, the case is put in formal probate where a Judge oversees the process. The judge will hold hearings and review paperwork.

What is involved in doing probate if you don’t use an attorney?

  • If it is informal probate, it’s a question of filling out the paperwork for the court, meeting court deadlines, giving required notices, communicating with various people, gathering assets, paying debts and then disbursing property to those named in the will.  If it is formal probate, it is the same process but there will be at least one hearing, possibly more and more communication with people involved in the estate as well as strategizing over different options to resolve disputes.

Is it necessary to hire an attorney in Colorado to do probate?

  • An attorney is not required by law, so the real question is whether it’s a good idea to have one.  A well-organized PR with a valid will who is fairly good with paperwork and accounting can likely handle informal probate, though they might occasionally have a question they need help with.  If a PR has simple questions, the court clerk can often answer or you might be able to look up the answer in the Probate Code. However, if the questions are more detailed or involve legal advice, it’s better to at least consult with an attorney since the clerk can’t answer and the Code might not cover the needs of your specific case. Also, if a PR recognizes they are getting behind on deadlines, that they haven’t got the time to meet the requirements of probate or they don’t understand what they need to do, then it’s best to at least consult with a probate attorney or hire one to assist with the case.  If it is a formal probate case, it’s better to have an attorney since the issues get more complicated.

 

 

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