When someone passes away, their assets get transferred to other individuals. In many cases, this is a complicated process that results in probate. During the process, the court attempts to distribute the assets. The legal process is complex and can take months or even years to resolve.
If your loved one’s estate is in probate, you should contact an attorney. In addition to telling you more about the process, they can guide you through it. Here at Wills and Wellness Estate Planning, we have the experience and resources necessary to handle your case.
When Doesn’t an Estate Go Into Probate?
Not all estates go into probate. In all of the following situations, probate is not necessary:
The Property is in Joint Names
If the assets of the deceased are under joint names, the rights of survivorship kicks in. This means that the living owners of the assets automatically take ownership of the assets. As a result, there is no need for probate. Even if the deceased individual bequeathed the assets to someone else, the court will not allow it.
Property with Designated Beneficiaries
Certain assets have designated beneficiaries. For example, one individual might have a life insurance policy. When they apply for the policy, they appoint a designated beneficiary. Upon the policyholder’s death, the beneficiary receives the benefits from the policy.
With assets that have pre-assigned beneficiaries, there is no need for probate. IRAs, 401ks, and other retirement accounts often don’t require probate.
Revocable Living Trusts
Before their demise, the deceased could make a revocable living trust. If all of their assets are in this trust, the estate will not require probate. Instead, the assets get passed on according to the terms of the trust.
The only exception is for pour-over wills. If the deceased failed to allocate any of their assets, those assets get automatically transferred to the trust. In this case, probate would trigger.
In Colorado, small estates can go through a shortened probate process. Although probate is still required, it is significantly shorter than typical probate. The process may only require taking a court-approved affidavit to a bank.
The Probate Process
If your loved one’s estate is going through probate, there are a few things you should know. The process involves several steps.
Determining the Personal Representative
The personal representative is also known as the executor of a will. If the deceased left a will, the document assigns al personal representative. They are the ones responsible for handling the probate process. In some cases, there is no will. The court needs to assign a personal representative.
Going to Probate Court
Once the personal representative is established, the next step is to go to probate court. This gives estate creditors a chance to claim their unpaid debts. While some claims may be valid, others aren’t. It’s the court’s responsibility to decide the outcome.
Typically, probate takes between six months and one year. If there are any complexities in your case, it can take even longer.
Avoiding Probate with a Probate Attorney in Denver
By doing thorough estate planning, you may be able to avoid probate. For instance, an attorney can ensure that all of your assets are included in your trust. They can also be certain that you have a personal representative listed.
One of the best ways to avoid probate is to make a living revocable trust. Unlike a will, this document is legally binding while you are alive. It carries over after you pass away.
In your trust, you can make a detailed plan for your assets. It is one of the only documents that gives you an exemption from probate. After you sign your trust agreement, you must take the assets and use them to fund the trust. Only then is your trust valid, and only then can you take comfort in knowing your loved ones can avoid probate.
While estate planning, people often make mistakes. Unfortunately, those mistakes can greatly affect their loved ones. It can mean that their assets don’t get distributed properly, or that probate ties up their assets for months.
Guiding You Through the Process
It might be too late for you to avoid probate. However, there is still hope. A probate attorney in Denver can keep the process as soon as possible. They can work to lessen the time it takes to get results.
In Denver, the median household income was $61,105 in 2016. Many households have enough assets that they need to worry about probate. Wills and Wellness Estate Planning understands the challenges that come with probate. Whether you want to prevent it or shorten the period, contact our firm. We’re ready to handle all of your estate planning and probate needs.
We understand the probate process can be difficult and burdensome, so we’ve put together a general outline to help guide clients. Learn more by clicking the button below.
If you would like us to contact you regarding your probate needs, please fill in the form below.