People in Colorado may have heard of the term "probate" and may not have a very favorable impression of it. Some people choose to take measures to avoid probate through estate planning, in order to save their loved ones' time and preserve their estate. However, with the right help probate does not have to be a lengthy, complex undertaking.
In today's economy, many people in Colorado carry some form of debt. For example, they may have a mortgage, an auto loan or a credit card account. When a person who has debts passes away, the question who is responsible for paying back these debts arises?
Many Coloradans may wish to avoid having their estate go through probate upon their death. After all, the probate process takes time and costs money, thus diminishing the value of their estate. However, there are certain ways property can be passed on to your loved ones while bypassing the probate process.
When a person in Colorado dies, any assets that are not placed in a trust, do not have a designated beneficiary and are owned solely by the deceased must go through the probate process. When this happens, a personal representative will be assigned by the court. This person's role as a fiduciary is to wind down the deceased's affairs and distribute the assets of the estate to the deceased's heirs.
If a person in Colorado dies without having a will or trust in place, this is known as dying "intestate." When this happens, the Colorado Probate Code will dictate who will inherit the deceased's assets. This is done through the probate process.
When a person in Colorado dies without leaving behind a will or trust, this is known as dying intestate. What this means is that the deceased's estate will go through the probate process. Because there is no document stating who the deceased wants to inherit their estate, state law determines who is to inherit.
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.