Many people in Colorado and throughout the country are unsure about the legal process that occurs to distribute a person’s assets after he or she dies. The process, known as “probate,” can be rather simple or quite complex, depending on the circumstances of a specific case. In fact, in some cases, estate owners take steps to avoid probate altogether.

From the perspective of an estate owner or as someone who has been designated as an estate executor or beneficiary, it is helpful to learn about the basic issues having to do with probate. It is also a good idea to know ahead of time what to do if a specific legal problem arises, such as someone contesting a last will and testament, which would typically prompt probate litigation. Such issues can be stressful but are easier to resolve if support resources are available.

People that are typically involved in the probate process

When an estate passes through probate, a probate court judge oversees proceedings. There may also be beneficiaries involved or, if a specific case pertains to minors, then their legal guardians may be present during proceedings. Many times, people die without having satisfied a debt, in which case, creditors who are owed money may also have a legitimate reason to attend a probate hearing.

The probate judge determines how asset ownership will be transferred

At the start of the probate process, a decedent’s assets are identified and gathered for distribution. Who gets what is determined by the judge. Any Colorado resident who encounters legal challenges regarding probate or other aspects of estate may request a meeting with an estate law attorney to seek recommendations as to how best to address a particular issue.