Anyone who has lost a family-member or other loved one may have need for assistance with the legal aspects of settling the decedent’s financial affairs. Probate is the legal mechanism for collecting a deceased person’s property, paying her debts and taxes and distributing property to whomever is legally entitled to receive it .
Probate is not always necessary to settle the decedent’s affairs. Some assets will pass automatically upon death to another person. Bank accounts or investment accounts with pay on death designations, life insurance policies or retirement accounts with beneficiary designations, and property (whether real or personal) held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship will pass automatically to some one or more designated individuals, and thus do not require a probate estate. Property titled in a trust and certain personal property having a collective value of less than the statutory limit may also pass without a probate estate. Title to estate owned solely in the decedent’s name or in his name as a co-tenant with someone else can only be transferred through the probate process. Most personal property other than those type mentioned above must also pass through probate.
Probate in Colorado typically takes from about 6 months to a year, but in complex cases many times may take much longer. A probate estate is initiated in Colorado with an application to the District Court of the county in which the deceased resided at the time of death. The court will appoint a personal representative who will take charge of the deceased individual’s assets and debts.
If the death of a friend or family member has left you with unanswered questions about her property and debt, please call Weaver & Fitzhugh, PC for more information