Navigating the probate process can be a complex and overwhelming experience, particularly for those who are unfamiliar with the legal requirements and procedures. This is especially true for small estates in Colorado, where there are specific rules and regulations that must be followed to ensure that the deceased's assets are distributed in accordance with their wishes.
Whether you are an executor or a beneficiary, understanding the probate process is crucial to ensuring that the deceased's wishes are respected and that all legal obligations are fulfilled.
In this post, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the probate process for small estates in Colorado, so you can feel confident and informed as you navigate this important process. Here we will show you what small estate probate is, explain Colorado's small estate affidavit, and outline the steps involved in completing summary administration. With this information at hand, you can be sure that you are equipped to handle the probate process with ease.
What Is Colorado Small Estate Probate?
In Colorado, a small estate is an estate with a total value of less than $70,000 in personal property and no real property. If the deceased person's assets fall within this category, then their heirs or devisees can collect the assets through a process called a small estate affidavit.
This process allows them to avoid the need to start a case with the probate court, which can be time-consuming and expensive. The small estate affidavit is a legal document that must be completed and signed by the person entitled to receive the deceased person's assets.
It must be filed with the court in the county where the deceased person lived, along with a certified copy of the death certificate. Once the court approves the affidavit, the assets can be distributed to the heirs or devisees. However, it's important to note that the small estate affidavit process may not be appropriate for all situations, and it's always advisable to seek legal advice from a qualified personal representative (also known as an 'executor' or an 'administrator) to determine the best course of action for your specific circumstances.
Compared to other probate processes like the Informal probate process and the formal probate process, the small estate probate process has many advantages. It is simpler, more efficient, and often less expensive. For a collection of personal property, the personal representative can use an affidavit form and present it to financial institutions or other holders of property, allowing them to transfer the assets without court involvement.
What Is Simplified or Summary Administration Probate for Small Estates?
Probate is the legal process by which a person's assets are distributed after they pass away. It can be a lengthy and expensive process, but fortunately, Colorado offers a simplified probate process for small estates called "summary administration."
Summary administration is a more streamlined version of the traditional probate process, allowing your loved ones to save time, probate fees, and potentially lawyer fees. Although it doesn't allow your survivors to skip probate entirely, the process is much simpler than a full probate.
To be eligible for summary administration in Colorado, the entire estate values, fewer liens, and encumbrances cannot exceed certain amounts. These include:
1. Personal property held by the decedent as fiduciary or trustee
2. Exempt property allowance and family allowance
4. Costs of administration,
5. Reasonable funeral expenses
6. Medical expenses of a last illness
Determining whether your estate qualifies for summary administration can be tricky, as the exact dollar amounts vary depending on your circumstances. For example, if you leave behind a spouse and/or children, the exempt property and family allowance amounts may differ. These amounts are adjusted annually to account for changes in the cost of living.
Suppose your estate does qualify for Colorado Law summary administration. In that case, your executor (aka personal representative) can wrap up the probate process quickly because there are no remaining assets after the specified amounts are paid out. This can give your loved ones much-needed closure and allow them to move on from the probate process more quickly.
Colorado Summary Administration is a simplified probate process available in Colorado for small estates. While it doesn't allow your loved ones to skip probate entirely, it can save them time and money. It is best to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer who can walk you through the process and ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after you pass away to determine whether your estate qualifies for simplified probate (summary administration).
What Steps Are Involved In Completing Colorado's Summary Administration?
Colorado has a simplified procedure, known as Summary Administration, that can be used to probate small estates. This process can be much quicker and less expensive than the traditional probate process. To use summary administration, the executor or personal representative of the estate must take the following steps:
- File a written request with the local probate court: The personal representative must submit a written request to the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The request should explain why the estate qualifies for summary administration.
- Obtain court approval: If the court approves the request, the personal representative can immediately distribute the assets to the people who are entitled to them. This step can skip some of the requirements of the full probate process, such as providing notice to creditors.
- File a closing statement and accounting with the probate court: The personal representative must file a closing statement and accounting with the probate court once the estate's assets have been distributed.
- Provide copies of the closing statement: The personal representative must provide a copy of the closing statement to the people who received the property, creditors, and anyone else who may have an interest in the property.
How Can Estate Planning Attorney Help In Colorado's Probate Process For Small Estates Summary Administration:
An estate planning attorney can help in Colorado's probate process for small estate summary administration by guiding the executor through the legal procedures involved in settling the estate. In Colorado, if the total value of the deceased person's assets is less than $70,000, the executor can file for summary administration, a simplified probate process that doesn't require court supervision.
An estate planning attorney can help the executor prepare and file the necessary documents, including a Petition for Summary Administration, an Affidavit of Collection of Personal Property, and a Final Accounting. The attorney can also assist in resolving any outstanding debts or claims against the estate and distribute assets to beneficiaries according to the decedent's wishes.
Additionally, an estate planning attorney can ensure that the estate plan is up-to-date and comprehensive, which can help avoid disputes and litigation in the future. Overall, consulting an estate planning attorney can make the probate process less stressful and time-consuming for the executor while ensuring that the decedent's wishes are properly carried out.
Does a small estate affidavit need to be filed with the court in Colorado?
No, a small estate affidavit does not need to be filed with a court in Colorado. Instead, it can be presented to individuals or entities holding personal property of the deceased, giving them legal authority to release the property to the designated recipient named in the affidavit.
What is the threshold for a small estate affidavit in Colorado?
The threshold for a small estate affidavit in Colorado is $74,000 or less in personal property as of 2022. If the decedent passes away in 2021 or 2020, the threshold is below $70,000. In such cases, the inheritor can claim the property without court involvement almost immediately after the owner's death.