Estate Administration and Probate
Estate administration is the process of gathering, assessing, and valuing the assets of a deceased individual (called the “Estate”) and making sure all taxes and other debts of the deceased are paid or otherwise handled, and distributing the remainder of the assets to the deceased’s rightful heirs.
Estate administration is sometimes accomplished through a probate procedure through the Courts via an individual’s will or intestacy (meaning without a will), and other times a probate is not necessary and a trust administration handles distribution of the deceased’s assets. Not all assets are considered probate assets and such assets can otherwise be distributed to heirs without the need of either a will or a trust.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of what happens to one’s estate (meaning property) after they pass away. Probate occurs whether someone died with a will (called a testate estate), or without a will (called an intestate estate). The probate process ensures that a deceased person’s property will be transferred or distributed to those entitled to it, whether that be it an individual, organization, charity or other entity.
What is Included in a Deceased Person’s Estate?
A deceased person’s estate contains all real property and personal property a person owns. Not all of a deceased person’s assets are necessarily subject to probate. Jointly owned accounts, payable on death (POD) Accounts, transfer on death (TOD) accounts, assets placed in a revocable trust, and those assets with a beneficiary designation such as a retirement or 401k account, and life insurance policies are examples of assets which are not considered subject to the probate process.
What are the General Steps to a Probate Administration?
- Determine if a probate is necessary. If a deceased person did not own any real property and other assets do not amount to $66,000.00 (for the year 2017, this amount periodically changes) then a probate is not necessary in Colorado.
- Find out if there is valid will. If there is a valid will, then the will needs to be lodged (deposited) with the District Court of the county where deceased person resided.
- Determine who all of the heirs are of the estate. This may require a notice of publication in the newspaper.
- Submit all paperwork to the Court to open the probate process and have a personal representative (executor) appointed.
- Publish notice to creditors and allow 4 months after publication for creditors to make claims against the estate.
- Collect and determine the deceased’s assets and liabilities and put together an inventory. While administering the estate, keep an up-to-date accounting of all expenditures and receivables to the estate.
- Satisfy creditor claims.
- Distribute remaining assets to the heirs of the estate.
- Close the estate and have the personal representative discharged of their duties.
The above steps are a very basic general outline of the probate process and each estate administration has its own unique circumstances and challenges. Lazar Law, LLC will help guide you through this cumbersome and emotional process while you tend to other things during such a difficult time.