One of the most common concerns about how probate works is the cost of probate in Colorado. Some of the concerns about the cost of probate in Colorado include: the cost of probate for small estates; the cost of probate for large estates; whether any estate assets will be left after probate because of required expenses; the cost of hiring a probate attorney; how probate attorneys are paid; whether someone should attempt to represent themselves in probate court; and whether they should hire a probate attorney.
These are legitimate concerns when it comes to probate fees. The probate procedure is frightening for most people. In this article, we will provide information for each of these concerns. After reading this article, if you would like to learn more about how to protect your estate assets, estate taxes, or probate in Colorado, the estate attorneys of Ball Morse Lowe provide free consultations.
What Is the Cost of Probate in Colorado?
The cost of probate in Colorado depends on several factors:
- Whether it is a small estate.
- Whether the estate qualifies to be informally probated.
- Whether the estate must go through the formal probate process.
- Whether there is a will.
- Whether creditors object to the treatment of their claims.
- Whether heirs or named beneficiaries contest the will.
In short, the more complex the case is, the more expensive the probate procedure could potentially become.
What Is the Cost for Small Estates?
Small estates in Colorado are defined as estate assets consisting of personal property worth less than $70,000 (as of 2020) and with no real property. There may or may not be a will. Small estates are the least expensive type of probate in Colorado. A small estate affidavit must be completed and filed. The probate fee for a small estate is $83.00 according to the Filing Fees, Surcharges, and Costs PDF provided by the Colorado Judicial Branch. After the probate filing fee is paid and the small estate affidavit is on file with the probate court, heirs may collect estate assets from the personal representative.
Small estates are generally the simplest and least expensive probate cases because they have the least amount of estate assets. However, having a simple estate plan that includes a will with clear beneficiary designations can make a small estate probate matter easier for your loved ones. Ball Morse Lowe's estate attorneys offer free consultations for estate planning.
What Is the Cost for Large Estates?
The cost of probate in Colorado for large estate depends on whether the probate procedure will be informal or formal, whether there is a will, and whether there are any other complications such as an heir or beneficiary who decides to contest the will or a creditor who files an objection to how their claim against the estate was treated.
The Colorado probate filing fees for both formal and informal probate is $199.00 according to the Filing Fees, Surcharges, and Costs PDF provided by the Colorado Judicial Branch. If supervised administration is required, a fee of $198.00 must be paid. If a claim is contested, there is a fee of $198.00. The fee for the “Deposit of Will” is $18.00. The fee for the “Demand of Notice” is $36.00. The fee for the “Public Administrator Statement,” should it be required, depends on the amount of gross assets contained in the estate. It can be zero, $10.00, or $109.00. If there is probate litigation and a jury is requested, the fee is $231.00.
Informally probated estates may or may not have a will. When there is no will, probate cases are referred to as “intestate estates.” To remain informally probated, there must be clear intestate succession. For example, the decedent's estate assets would be inherited by their spouse. There must not be an expectation that someone will contest the matter. A Colorado Probate Court is not as involved in informal probate matters as they are in formal probate.
Formal probate is used for larger estates that are more complex, or for intestate estates that do not have clear intestate succession. Probate cases that are involved in formal probate may also be subject to being contested or be involved in some other type of probate litigation. If probate litigation of any kind occurs, the cost of probate can drastically increase.
In addition to probate court fees, there are other fees that may be required depending on the needs of the estate. Examples include: professional fees associated with hiring a tax professional to assist with completing the returns for the estate taxes; hiring a real estate agent or broker to perform an appraisal on real property; hiring an appraiser for certain valuables; or hiring an estate attorney to assist with the probate case. Personal representatives are also allowed to receive compensation for their role in administering the estate.
There is no possible way to answer with certainty what probate in Colorado will cost for a larger estate simply because there is no way to know what will happen until the probate case gets started. The more complicated the matter becomes, the more expensive it may be.
How Much of the Estate Will Be Left After Probate?
The good news is that it is often a myth that the cost of probate in Colorado will take all of an estate's assets. This just isn't true for most estates. However, what is left of an estate after probate court depends on the estate planning that the decedent did prior to their death, the debts owed by the estate, estate taxes due, the cost of the probate procedure (based on the type of probate necessary), and the savviness of the personal representative or executor of the estate.
Before heirs may collect estate assets from the personal representative, the debts of the estate must be paid. Creditors are given a specific amount of time to file their claims after they are made aware of the probate case. The personal representative is also required to ensure that the estate taxes are paid. The concept of estate taxes can seem scary to many. However, for most estates it generally boils down to filing the yearly state and federal taxes, as most individuals do not meet the required threshold for the federal estate tax.
To learn more about estate planning and how to best protect your loved ones, schedule your free consultation now with Ball Morse Lowe.
What Is the Cost of a Probate Attorney in Colorado?
The cost of a probate attorney in Colorado depends on which probate attorney you hire to help administer the estate or to represent you in probate court. You should discuss the retainer along with the hourly rate with the probate attorney during the consultation. Depending on your needs and the potential complications, the probate attorney may have a flat rate if you are looking to develop an estate plan.
How Are Probate Attorneys Paid?
Probate attorneys are generally paid by the person who hired them. When it comes to representation in the probate court, there are some exceptions if probate litigation is involved. In certain instances of disputes in the probate process, a Colorado Probate Court may order a party to pay the attorney fees of the winning party. However, this is not always the case.
It is important to consider that hiring a probate attorney either for estate planning or for assistance with the probate court process is an investment.
Should I Do Colorado Probate on My Own?
When considering if you should take on the Colorado Probate Court process on your own depends on several factors. You must be able to determine whether the matter qualifies as a small estate, informal probate, or formal probate. If it qualifies as a small estate and you do not live outside of Colorado, you may decide to administer the estate on your own. However, it is important to keep in mind that heirs and potential heirs may still be unhappy and may still decide that they want to contest or otherwise sue over estate assets.
Determination of heirship is another important factor to consider when thinking about whether you should handle the Colorado probate process on your own. Determination of heirship is both a legal concept and a court proceeding. As a probate court proceeding, the probate court notifies potential heirs to be heard by the court related to the decedent’s real property. If they may have a legal right to ownership, they have a right to be heard. As a legal concept, this is important because if determination of heirship does not properly occur, it can cause legal problems in the future for any title that was passed on through the probate process.
If the estate does not qualify as a small estate, you must determine whether it qualifies as an informal or formal probate. This is not always easy to determine as a layperson. You must also consider whether someone is likely to contest the will (if there is one) or if there are other potential complications that you may need to deal with during the estate administration process.
You should also consider whether you have the time and emotional resources to devote to the probate process. Unfortunately, acting as the personal representative will make some heirs very unhappy even if you are following the instructions left in a will. It can cause significant emotional distress.
Frequently Asked Colorado Probate Law Questions
The following Colorado probate law questions are provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. Read more
Should I Hire a Probate Attorney?
A probate attorney can be very beneficial whether you need to plan your estate or need assistance navigating probate in Colorado. For estate planning, a probate attorney can help you determine and implement the best strategies to preserve your assets and even minimize which ones are required to go through probate in Colorado. For the probate process, a probate attorney can assist you in several ways. By possessing a deep understanding of the probate process and the law, a probate attorney can guide you through your responsibilities as the personal representative of an estate and also represent you in the event that probate litigation of some kind occurs.
Ball Morse Lowe is here to help. Whether you've been named as a personal representative or you are interested in learning more about or beginning the estate planning process, our estate attorneys provide free consultations.