Answers to the most common questions received by attorneys about the probate process in Colorado. Many of these answers will apply to other states' probate process as well.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process the state has to settle the affairs of a deceased individual. It can be more easily thought of as a way to pass ownership of someone's stuff after they pass away. The personal representative (formerly known as an executor) is in charge of handling creditors and distributing the assets of the estate.
How Long Does the Probate Process Take?
In Colorado, the mandatory minimum time a probate can be open is six months. Some probates can take years if there are fights, however.
What is the Difference Between an Executor and a Personal Representative?
Not a thing. The older term was executor. The law now refers to that person as a personal representative or PR.
What are Letters Testamentary?
Letters Testamentary prove that the personal representative has authority to act for the estate of the deceased individual. Your letters are actually one piece of paper that is stamped and sealed by the court saying that the court gives you authority to access the deceased individual's bank accounts, property and all of their assets.
What are the Main Problems Encountered in Probate?
Some of the main problems involved in probate are determining who should have what. This is encountered when there is no will or other estate planning documents. Other problems arise when people feel left out or cheated. That is why it is so important to have an estate plan in place so your loved ones do not have to question what is supposed to happen should you pass.
What Happens if There is No Will in Probate?
If there is no will, probate can still move forward. The state has laws that will determine where your things will go. This makes it more important to have a will because with a proper estate plan, you decide where your property goes, not the state.
Additional resources provided by the author
The Colorado Bar Association's website is an excellent resource for all things probate, including how to run the process yourself. The same is true for the Colorado Court's website.
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