During the probate process, the probate court reviews the will to determine its validity, and if valid, the court will distribute the assets to the named beneficiaries. In Colorado, there are three ways in which probate is conducted: informal, formal, and supervised. However, if the estate has less than $50,000 in assets and no real estate, Colorado probate courts will not review it.
Informal probates comprise about 90% of Colorado probates. They are generally for estates where no one contests the distribution of assets. A “registrar,” instead of a judge, handles the probate, and the personal representative (i.e. person seeking distribution) does not need to retain an attorney to start the process. Although the court verifies who the personal representative is, the assets are usually distributed without the supervision of the court.
However, the Colorado court will supervise a probate when a beneficiary brings charges of inaccurate, negligent, or fraudulent distribution of assets by the personal representative. Less than 1% of informal probates are supervised, since Colorado presumes that personal representatives will act responsibly, prudently, and in good faith.
In Colorado's supervised probate proceedings, the personal representative must submit accurate, detailed, and timely accountings of asset distribution. Sometimes, a personal representative will actually request the Colorado court to supervise distribution, in order to preclude any future claims of dishonest or negligent conduct on the personal representative’s part.
Formal probate is for cases where the validity of the will is in question, the estate is exceedingly complex, or incidental accusations exist. For example, a third party may have obtained the will through undue influence or coercion. In cases where a genuine legal complaint is made, formal procedures must be adhered to, in order to provide both parties with a fair and impartial adjudication.
If you believe a will is invalid or is being distributed unfairly, then you should seek the advice of an experienced estate lawyer. He can help you contest the probate proceeding, and can help you retrieve what is rightfully yours.
Last Modified: 07-03-2018 09:01 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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