Some legal processes that may seem well-known can actually be quite complex. For example, many people may have heard of the term probate but they may be surprised to hear that there are different types of probate processes. Colorado has three types of probate processes. These processes apply to both wills and intestate estates.

The first type of probate is for small estates. If an estate is valued at $50,000 or less and does not contain any real property, then the deceased’s heirs can receive their share of the estate through the execution of an affidavit. The court is not involved in a probate for small estates.

The second type of probate is an informal probate. This type of probate is permissible when the deceased left a valid, uncontested will or if there is no will and intestacy is clear. In addition, there must be a clearly qualified personal representative available. The court’s involvement in an informal probate will be limited, but it will ensure that the terms of the will or laws of intestacy are adhered to.

The third type of probate is a formal probate. This is the type of probate that will be used if there is an issue with the will. For example, an heir may be challenging the will, the terms of the will may be unclear, the will may be invalid or there could be significant challenges that come with administering the will. In this type of probate, the court may mandate that the personal representative seek court approval for all transactions made, or, conversely, the court may permit the administration of the estate by the personal representative to proceed without court supervision.

What type of probate is appropriate depends on the size of the estate, the validity and clarity of the will (if there is one), whether there are any challenges to a will or whether there are complications in estate administration. Since these are complex legal topics, those who need to know more about the different types of probate in Colorado and which one is right for them will want to seek professional guidance on the matter.