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19th Judicial District Probate Office Information
Most people probably think of wills and death when they hear the term probate court. This accounts for much of the work done by the probate court; however, the probate court also provides oversight in the following areas:
- The distribution of a person’s estate after death.
- The appointment of a guardian for a minor or an incapacitated adult. A “guardian” is a person who has qualified as a guardian of a minor or incapacitated person pursuant to testamentary or court appointment.
- The appointment of a conservator for a minor or a protected adult. A “conservator” is a person who is appointed by a court to manage the estate or financial affairs of a minor or protected adult. The court refers to the ward as a “protected person”, regardless of whether the protected person is a minor or an adult.
The Colorado Judicial Department provides detailed instructions, manuals and forms for probate, estates, guardianships, and conservatorships. Self help information also is available by accessing the yellow “Probate” tab.
Decedent’s Estate: The matters concerning a person who has died
Probate is the court procedure by which a Will is proved to be valid or invalid; though in current usage this term has been expanded to generally include all matters and proceedings pertaining to administration of estates, guardianships, etc. For estates of decedents it is the process of application to the court, either informally or formally, to probate a Will and to appoint a personal representative to conduct the administration of the estate. The Registrar, following appointment of a personal representative, issues “Letters” that reflect this appointment and provides evidence to third parties of the authority to act on behalf of the estate. Terms you will commonly hear during the probate process are explained on the attached.
Do I need to probate the estate?
In order to answer this question you must first determine what estate assets the decedent had titled in his/her name alone.
Probate is necessary if:
1.) Decedent had real estate in his/her name alone or owned an interest in real estate in tenants-in-common. (Cemetery plots are not considered real estate)
2.) Decedent had assets, personal property, less liens and encumbrances, totaling more than $60,000 in his/her name alone.
Probate is not necessary if:
1.) Property owned by the decedent was held in joint tenancy (document will read JTWROS, joint tenancy with right of survivorship). A death certificate recorded in the county where the real property is located will transfer the property to the other surviving tenant(s).
2.) There is a POD (payable on death) bank account(s) and/or certificate(s) of deposit.
3.) There are estate assets held in trust.
4.) There is miscellaneous personal property or untitled item(s).These are not considered estate assets.
5.) Insurance policies with a named beneficiary or beneficiaries.
If the estate is less than $60,000, determined by the guidelines above, an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property, commonly referred to as a Small Estate Affidavit, may be the proper procedure for the heirs to use to access the decedent’s assets.
Many motor vehicle departments have their own version of this form used for transferring vehicles ONLY. You may check with the motor vehicle department in the county where the vehicle is titled. Motor vehicles also may be transferred using the Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property.
At any time 10 or more days after the death of a decedent, the person(s) claiming to be the successor(s) of the decedent, may complete this Affidavit and have his/her signature notarized. Upon presentation of the Affidavit to any person, entity or business having possession of tangible personal property previously belonging to the decedent they shall make payment or deliver the property to the successor(s). Any person, entity or business possessing an instrument evidencing a debt, obligation, stock or stock brand belonging to the decedent also must deliver the property to the successor(s).
What should I do with the Will?
The custodian of an original instrument purporting to be a Will is required by law, within 10 days after the death of the testator or as soon thereafter as the death becomes known to the custodian, to deliver the Will to the Court in the county where the decedent resided at the time of his/her death.
Additional information also is available from the Colorado Bar Association website including 10 how-to brochures.
Attorney filed probate cases in the Nineteenth Judicial District are mandatory e-file.
Lauris Laue, Probate Registrar, Weld County Combined Courts, 901 Ninth Avenue Rm. 418, P.O. Box 2038, Greeley, CO 80632 970 475-2505