Most people have this idea that probate is a long and complicated process. This is true in some cases, and you will need a Colorado probate attorney to get through it. However, the length and complexity of the process will depend on the size of the estate. Colorado recognizes three types of probate. Find out where your situation falls.
If the estate has a total value of $50,000 and no real estate, this is a small estate. This can be in the form of cash, bank accounts, jewelry, and other personal property. You can inherit it by making a sworn statement or affidavit that you have a legal right to collect the assets and distribute it among other heirs. You do not have to go to probate court at all. This is true with or without a will.
If there is a clear heir or a legitimate will, you may have an uncontested estate that will go through informal probate. Informal probate is possible if there is no will if it is clear that only one person has the legal right to inherit. It is also possible if there is a will, and no one is likely to contest it. You still have to go through probate court. However, the court will only have a limited role. It will see to it that the process follows intestacy law or directions of the will, and place accountability on the personal representative.
The most complicated type of probate is the formal probate. It will take at least six months for probate to go through, and probably much longer. You will have to go through this process if none of the above conditions for affidavit or informal probate applies. In most cases, you need formal probate if there are several heirs to an estate with no will, if the will is contested or vague, there are no heirs, or there are other issues with the estate. The probate court will settle all disputes and charge the personal representative to carry out the court’s decisions.
Probate will not always require a probate attorney. In most cases, you will only need one in formal probate. However, it is always better to consult with one regardless of the probate type, if only to protect your rights.