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Formal Probate

Grand Junction Probate Lawyer

Colorado has two forms of Probate; Informal and Formal. The purpose of Probate is to settle the claims of creditors, file and pay the deceased' taxes, manage the estate assets until the estate is closed, and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.

Certain circumstances require the Formal Probate of an estate, but sometimes Formal Probate is merely desirable to extend an additional degree of protection to the Personal Representative. Both types of Probate commence with the appointment of the Personal Representative, the person who will be in charge of administering the estate.

If the deceased had a Will, he is said to have died "testate." On the other hand if the deceased died without a valid Will he is said to have died "intestate." Formal Probate can involve either a testate or intestate estate and is required if there is: (1) a dispute as to the validity of a Will; (2) a dispute as to who should serve as Personal Representative; (3) evidence the estate is insolvent; (4) a missing or unknown heir or devisee (a person named as a beneficiary in a Will); or (5) a contested claim that a common law marriage exists.

Additionally, Formal Probate is the required forum if the Will is Holographic (hand written) or if it is a non-traditional Will. Formal Probate Proceedings are conducted before a judge who holds a hearing to resolve any disputes or issues. Since Formal Probate is complicated and requires that all interested parties be notified of the hearing and be given the opportunity to participate, it is prudent to hire an experienced and knowledgeable Probate Lawyer to guide you through the process.

Formal Probate Procedure

The procedure is started by the party designated as Personal Representative in the Will (or an interested person if there is no Will) filing a Petition for Formal Probate of the Will and Formal Appointment of the Personal Representative. After notice is given to all interested parties (heirs and beneficiaries) a court hearing is held. Any interested party may attend the hearing with or without legal counsel. All contested issues and disputes will be handled at the hearing and will result in an order being issued by the court opening the estate and appointing a Personal Representative.

After the estate is opened the Personal Representative must: (1) publish a notice to creditors informing them as to how and when claims are to be submitted: (2) have the assets of the estate appraised; (3) prepare an inventory of the estate assets and file it with the court; (4) provide an interim accounting to the court and to the beneficiaries; (5) file the decedent's final tax return as well as a federal estate tax return if the deceased had a taxable estate; (6) obtain approval by the court of the proposed schedule of distribution; (7) distribute the estate assets to the designated beneficiaries; and (8) obtain an order from the court closing the estate and discharging the Personal Representative. Most Formal Proceedings take a least one year and may take even more time if there are estate tax issues and/or protracted disputes and probate litigation involving the heirs or creditors.

Probate Lawyer in Grand Junction

The Law Offices of James A. Littlepage, a Grand Junction Probate and Estate Planning firm, has been helping clients since 1993 in handling Probate matters. Mr. Littlepage has prepared over 2,000 estate plans and recently was recognized with a 2015 and 2016 Five Star Estate Planning Attorney℠ award. In 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 he received the Five Star Wealth Manager℠ award, as seen in 5280 and ColoradoBiz magazines. For legal advice and assistance in Probate matters, please contact the Grand Junction Probate Lawyer at the firm for a free 30 minute consultation for estate planning and probate.