Probate, or estate administration, refers to the process of handling a person's (the decedent's) estate after death. In general, the process entails appointment of a personal representative pursuant to the terms of the decedent's will, or if there is no will, pursuant to court appointment based on a the petition of one who holds a certain relationship to the decedent. Court-issued letters of testamentary grant the personal representative authority to act on behalf of the estate.
A personal representative is responsible for taking inventory of the estate, notifying and paying the decedent's creditors, liquidating the estate (if appropriate), managing the estate assets and any proceeds, filing the decedent's final tax return and paying related income tax, filing the estate tax return and paying and death taxes (if applicable) and/or income taxes that the estate earns, paying the costs of estate administration, keeping financial records of the estate, making distributions from the estate according to the terms of the decedent's will or according to the Colorado intestacy statutes if there is no will, and closing the estate.
Depending on the circumstances, the Colorado estate administration required (or desired) may be:
1) Informal Probate
2) Formal Probate
3) Ancillary Probate
In addition to handling the probate process, in Colorado, a personal representative also has the duties/powers to:
1) Carry out any written instructions relating to the decedent's last remains, i.e. cremation or burial, arrangements for a funeral, memorial service, etc. (assuming the decedent did not explicitly grant these powers to a different person under an agency document),
2) Lodge the decedent's will in the county court, and
3) Handle any ancillary probate/estate administration if the decedent died owning real property in another state.
In Colorado, a personal representative is considered a fiduciary in relation to the estate creditors and beneficiaries. Because of a personal representative's relatively high standard of care in dealing with the estate and its administration, it is generally recommended that a personal representative consult with an attorney (at least) at the outset of the Colorado probate process.
Tanttila Law is available to help family members of decedents or personal representatives nominated under wills with the Colorado probate process.
Call or e-mail for a consultation: 720.841.3291 or firstname.lastname@example.org.