Documents reading "Last Will & Testament" and "Inventory of Estate Assets." A small stack of coins with a house key rest on top of these papers

How Does Probate Work?

An Important Posthumous Process for Assets

After someone passes away, their assets must be distributed according to their will (or according to Colorado guidelines if they die intestate). This means that they must pass through the probate process. If you haven’t heard of this process before, read on to learn about the different types of probate.

Types of Probate

Depending on the value of the estate that must be passed down, the type of probate that you participate in may vary.

Small Estate

If, for example, the value of the estate is worth $50,000 or less and involves no real estate, then you will go through what is known as small estate probate. Small estate probate does not actually involve the court working through the traditional probate process but rather requires that heirs submit an affidavit with the court; once filed and approved, then the heirs may distribute the assets accordingly.

Informal Probate

Probate that involves the court merely acting as a guide throughout the process is known as informal probate. In order for informal probate to take place, the following conditions must be present:

 
  • There must be a valid will that explains how assets should be distributed OR intestate guidelines are clear on how assets should be distributed.

  • There is little to no expectation that asset distribution will be contested among named beneficiaries.

  • There is a person prepared to work with the court through the probate process according to state law.

Informal probate is often more affordable and takes less time than more formal probate.

Formal Probate

If any disagreements exist within the named beneficiaries of the will or if the estate is complex and involves a large number of assets, then the estate will have to pass through the formal probate process. In the formal process, the court is very hands-on with how assets are distributed and ensures that the representative meets all requirements, including notification of the death of the will’s creator as well as the paying of all debts held by the will’s creator.

Going through formal probate is often time-consuming and more costly, yet this is often the method that is required for an estate.

Working with an Attorney Through Probate

The probate process can take a lot of time and money to work through, and the stress of the process can be difficult to manage, especially if you are still working through the grief associated with the death of your loved one. Working with an attorney through the probate process can give you great peace of mind; this is what we aim to provide at Law Office of Alexandra White, PC


Learn more about probate laws in Colorado or schedule your consultation by calling us at (303) 647-4245 or by visiting our website.

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