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Probate Attorney Colorado Springs | Colorado Springs Probate Lawyer

After the loss of a loved one, you need competent probate attorney to guide you through the complexity of the probate and estate administration process. Buell & Ezell's probate and trust administration practice is focused on helping families through this difficult time, while simplifying the legal complexities that they are confronted with.



Probate Attorney Helps With Administration:

Probate is the court supervised distribution of a person's property at death. When an individual dies owning property in his or her name, that property generally must go through probate. Probate is a legal procedure that establishes ownership of property in others. The probate system is designed to ensure the validity of a will, to give notice to all possible claimants of property, and to resolve ownership disputes and rights. Probate courts also distribute property not covered by a will (intestate estates) according to legal defaults. Procedurally, the probate court first establishes whether the deceased left a valid will. If so, the probate process guides the division of property in accordance with the will's provisions. If the estate is intestate or if a will is found to be invalid, the probate division applies state laws to divide up the estate. The probate court then signs off on the final accounting of the distribution, thereby finalizing the transfers of ownership. In Colorado, the average probate takes about 5-6 months. Probate administration will involve the following basic steps:

  • Validation of the Will
  • Appointment of Personal Representative
  • Inventory and Gathering of Estate Assets
  • Payment of Estate Debts
  • Payment of Taxes (Income, Federal Estate)
  • Distribution of the Estate Assets to Beneficiaries

What are Probate Assets?

Probate administration only applies to probate assets. Probate assets are those assets that the decedent owned in his or her sole name at death, or that were owned by the decedent and one or more co-owners and lacked a provision for automatic succession of ownership at death.

For example:

  • A bank account or investment account in the sole name of a decedent is a probate asset, but a bank account or investment account owned by the decedent and payable on death or transferable on death to another, or held jointly with rights of survivorship with another, is not a probate asset;
  • A life insurance policy, annuity contract or individual retirement account that is payable to a specific beneficiary is not a probate asset, but a life insurance policy, annuity contract or individual retirement account payable to the decedent's estate is a probate asset;
  • Real estate titled in the sole name of the decedent, or in the name of the decedent and another person as tenants in common, is a probate asset, but real estate titled in the name of the decedent and their spouse as joint tenants with rights of survivorship is not a probate asset on the death of the first spouse to die.

Trust Administration:

Trust administration is very similar to probate except it involves a private administration of the affairs of the deceased person and not a public administration through a probate court. There is a common misconception that if you create a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) during lifetime your family will not have to do any work to transfer your assets upon death. Typically, a RLT is less costly and more efficient than probate upon death, however, there are still necessary steps to be taken in order to properly administer the estate according to the purposes of the trust. Trust administration will involve the following basic steps:

  • Inventory and Valuation of Trust Assets
  • Allocation of Trust Assets According to the Trust
  • Payment of Estate Debts
  • Payment of Taxes (Income, Federal Estate)
  • Distribution of the Trust Assets to Beneficiaries

What Should I Do When a Loved One Dies?

Below is a brief list of the actions which a Personal Representative or Trustee should take upon the death of a loved one. This is not an exhaustive list of all actions to be taken, rather, it simply provides general suggestions.

  1. Spend time with your family and friends.
  2. Make appropriate funeral arrangements with a funeral director and clergy.
  3. Locate the decedent's estate planning documents (Will or Revocable Living Trust).
  4. Set up a consultation with a competent Estate Planning Attorney to discuss the estate administration process.
  5. Notify the decedent's employer of the death.
  6. Notify the post office of the death and have mail forwarded.
  7. Report the death to the local social security administration office.
  8. Cancel personal services such as newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
  9. Contact a Certified Public Accountant to discuss income taxes and estate taxes.
  10. Do not change the title of any assets without first consulting with an Estate Attorney.

Colorado Springs Probate Lawyer Consultation:

For a consultation with Buell & Ezell call (719) 444-8900 or send an e-mail to:
Consultations by appointment only.