A beneficiary deed can make real property that would otherwise be a probate asset a beneficiary asset.
When someone dies in Colorado, either with or without a will, the estate must be settled through probate court action. Probate is a type of court supervision whose sole concern is to insulate an estate from outside forces so that a decedent’s wishes can be respected and carried out. If intestate succession is required (no valid will) to fully distribute property the court will uphold state law because of the lack of direction from a will.
Estates are qualified in three categories and that dictates how they are handled and move through the probate court system.
- Formal probate includes maximum court intervention and could take six months or longer. This is usually required because a will, while possibly testate, is unclear in certain areas, and needs some supervision.
- Informal probate will look to have as little mediation as possible. Estates that are not expected to be contested by the heirs are almost always afforded informal probate.
- Small estate offers the simplest and cheapest form of probate, only estates worth less than $70,000 can claim this. However, if the decedent owned any sort of real property, the estate must apply for normal probate.
Interested parties should seek counsel from a Colorado estate planning lawyer to make sure that a testator’s voice is maintained in the will, or trust that will dictate what happens to property, who will raise minor children, and how an individual will spend their last days, in the event of long-term illnesses where an individual may not be able to speak for themselves, in addition to the security of naming a trusted person to conduct prescribed wishes (executor). Closing out Colorado estates can be time-consuming and dragged out, depending upon the nature of the assets left to distribute and instances of beneficiaries contesting a will, requiring the service of an estate planning lawyer.
A Denver estate planning lawyer will do their best to effectively and expediently administer the will to save an executor the frustration of holding up payment on bills and costs related to the decedent. These can include paying off creditors, burial costs, and upkeep on property for example, along with fees for professionals who perform services for the benefit of the estate such as appraisals.
A last will and testament can only direct estate owned assets and property. Interested parties to a Colorado probate action should consult with a tax lawyer about the impacts of non-probate assets that include those assets that have pre-designated beneficiaries, or joint interest with the right of survivorship that pass automatically to the named individual(s) upon a person’s death.
Colorado is one of several states that allows for beneficiary deeds where the owner of real property can designate one or more beneficiaries who will own the property upon the death of the original owner. A beneficiary deed can make real property that would otherwise be a probate asset a beneficiary asset.
Seek legal counsel
The size of an estate, considerations to exempt probate assets, the named beneficiaries and other entanglements surrounding a Last Will and Testament require the assistance of experienced lawyers who understand the state and federal laws that will impact its administration.