Do All Wills Have to Be Probated?

Almost everyone has heard of “probate,” the court process that occurs after someone dies. This process ensues to ensure that the assets, property, and belongings of the deceased person are transferred to that person’s proper heirs or beneficiaries and that any debts or unpaid taxes are paid off through the probate court process. The probate process requires that someone, either named by the deceased person in a will or established through the court, oversees this settlement of the estate. The person who is in charge of management of the process is either the executor or personal representative. This person must handle the probate process whether the deceased person died with a will or without one. Therefore, all estates must go through probate, whether there is a will or not. That is because it is a legal court process done to supervise the rightful distribution of the deceased person’s property.

Need legal help in handling a deceased family member’s estate through probate? Contact Drexler Law, serving clients throughout Colorado Springs. We are available at (719) 259-0050.

More on Wills & Probate

If someone dies without a will, it is referred to as dying “intestate.” Whether the person dies with or without a will, the estate generally must go through probate as stated above. However, how involved the court will be is determined by how complicated the estate turns out to be. Complications will revolve around its value, whether a valid will exists, how the assets were held, and whether any of its issues are contested and thus subject to litigation. In any probate process, the court must establish the validity of the will if one exists as an initial step. If it is determined that a will exists and is valid, the process is much easier as the executor of the will can then follow the instructions laid out in the will.

One way an estate may be passed on without going through probate rests on its value. For example, if the value of the estate is less than $50,00 and contains no real property such as a family home, the estate may be collected by the heirs or beneficiaries through the use of an affidavit presented to the court.

In another scenario, certain assets may not have to go through probate based on the way they were owned. For instance, assets owned in a joint tenancy, such as a home or other real estate, or a bank account will automatically go to the other “tenant” or person the account was shared with. Other assets, such as life insurance policies, annuities, or IRAs have beneficiaries designated who are automatically paid upon death of the principal and will not be subject to probate or the will.

Uncontested & Contested Estates

An informal probate process occurs when a valid will exists or when the estate is intestate but no one is contesting any issues. In that case, either the executor of the will or a personal representative is authorized by the court. His or her job is to oversee the settlement, based on the will’s instructions or based on intestacy law. In such a case, the court may have only a limited, supervisory role.

A formal probate process generally occurs when an estate is contested or when a will is unclear or invalid or challenged by family or interested parties. In these cases, the court will likely be more involved than in an informal probate. Here the court may want to approve all transactions and/or may have to hear litigation to determine an outcome.

Need Help Administering an Estate in Colorado Springs?

As you can see, probates are subject to an array of variations and complications. If you have been designated to administer the estate of a family member through the probate process, you can turn to Drexler Law. Our legal team has decades of experience as well as litigation skills; we thoroughly understand Colorado probate law and can provide the guidance you need to competently navigate the process.

Talk to a probate attorney about your legal needs in a consultation by calling us at (719) 259-0050 today.