Grand Junction Probate Administration Attorney
Estate Administration Lawyer in Grand Junction
If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, you may be experiencing an emotional roller coaster and probably have many questions about what will happen next. You may be worried because the deceased had no Will; that creditors are aggressively demanding payment; or you have other concerns about how to handle financial matters. Perhaps you are nominated as the Personal Representative or Executor in the Will, but have no idea what is expected of you. Based upon years of experience we understand that most clients have never had to deal with an estate or a Probate Court, and we take the time to answer your questions and provide simple and easy to follow guidance.
By law the Personal Representative has the power to carry out any written instructions left by the deceased relating to the body, funeral and burial arrangements. He also may arrange for the protection of the deceased's property, such as changing the locks on his home. Also, whoever has possession of the original Will and Codicils should lodge them within ten days of the deceased' death with the District Court in the county where the deceased resided.
Once you have had some time to recoup emotionally from your loss, it is important to contact a Probate attorney early on, before you take any action regarding the estate. Mistakes you make now may subject you to breach of fiduciary duty claims; will be more costly or impossible to remedy later; or will delay the administration of the estate.
A compassionate and knowledgeable Probate attorney is invaluable in handling the Probate Administration. Our years of experience will ensure that the estate is handled expeditiously. We will explain he process in plain language with a minimum of legalese. As part of our services, we : (1) prepare all documents that must be filed to open and close the estate; (2) process all creditor claims: (3) distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries; and (4) represent the Personal Representative in Court if there are disputes among the beneficiaries or between the beneficiaries and the Personal Representative.
If you need help with a Probate or estate matter, we urge you to contact the Grand Junction Probate attorney. We represent clients in Grand Junction and throughout the Western Slope of Colorado who are the beneficiary or Personal Representative of an estate. We are Law Offices of James A. Littlepage, a Probate administration firm in the area since 1993.
During the initial consultation, we will examine the Will if one exists, ascertain who the beneficiaries are and whether there are any unknown or missing heirs. We will discuss the likelihood of the Will being contested and what assets are subject to Probate. This conversation will help us determine the type of Probate that is required. The Probate system in Colorado is somewhat flexible, and depending upon the circumstances of the estate, we may recommend employing aspects of both the formal and informal Probate procedure.
If there is a Will, the estate is said to be "testate" and the distribution of assets will be done according to the terms of the Will. However, if the deceased had no Will, the distribution will be according to the "law of intestacy" and Colorado statues will dictate who the heirs are. Whether there is a Will or not, if all family members are in agreement, the estate has adequate assets to cover debts, taxes and expenses of administration and there are no missing or unknown heirs, the Informal Probate procedure may be utilized. Once the estate is opened by the Probate Division of the District Court, the Personal Representative will be appointed and can proceed to handle the estate business with no further court approval. Our office prepares a letter of instruction for the newly appointed Personal Representative that details all the steps required to administer the estate to conclusion. We are also available by phone to answer questions and discuss solutions when problems come up. The Informal Probate process will take a minimum of six months, practically speaking though, most Informal Probate takes approximately one year.
However, if there are complications such as conflicts between heirs, challenges from creditors or contested claims of a common law spouse, the estate must be handled through the Formal Probate process. Any issues will have to be resolved through probate litigation before court approval will be given to distribute the estate to the heirs. Formal Probate is more expensive than Informal Probate because of court appearances and the extra time expended by the attorney.
Living Revocable Trusts and Irrevocable Trusts are popular Estate Planning tools since they are not subject to Probate. Although Trusts and Wills are similar in content, a Trust is administered by a Trustee (appointed by the Grantor) rather than by a Personal Representative. The Trustee's job is similar to that of the Personal Representative, and he is held to the same strict standards as if he were acting as a Personal Representative. Failure to do so is a breach of fiduciary duty.
If a Trust is properly funded and the Trust is clearly stated, administration and distribution of assets to the beneficiaries will be smooth and of short duration. However, to avoid the traps and pitfalls of the unknown, it is prudent for the Trustee to retain the services of a Trust Attorney to minimize any chance that the Trustee will be held liable for mistakes in handling the Trust Administration. Furthermore, if disputes do arise between the Trustee and the beneficiaries, the Trust Attorney can provide guidance and direction to avoid Trust litigation.
James A. Littlepage, a Grand Junction Probate attorney, has been helping clients in Western Colorado with Probate Administration since 1993. Mr. Littlepage 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 assistance with Probate Administration, please contact the Grand Junction Probate Administration Attorney at the firm for a free 30 minute consultation for estate planning and probate.