How to Probate a Small Estate in Colorado
Small Estate Limits for Colorado
In Colorado, there's an Affidavit procedure for estates that are less than $70,000. This limit only applies to assets that would otherwise pass through probate, so excludes all joint tenancy property and all assets that pass by beneficiary designation, like life insurance and payable on death accounts. There is a ten-day waiting period.
You can get the forms required here.
Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. 15-12-1201
There's also a summary probate procedure for estates whose value is less than the value of personal property held by the decedent as trustee (so living trust assets don't count), exempt property allowance, family allowance, costs of administration, funeral expenses, and medical expenses for last illness.
Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. 15-12-1203
What's Included in valuing the estate?
Not everything a person owns is part of their "Estate" for probate purposes.
If you're wrapping up the estate of a Colorado resident who died with an estate that's worth less than a certain dollar amount, you won't have to go through a formal probate court proceeding.
It doesn't matter whether or not the deceased person left a will; what matters is the value of the assets left behind. If the estate's value is under the "small estates" limit in Colorado, you can take advantage of a simplified probate procedure, often called a "summary probate." Instead of having a court hearing in front of a judge, you may need only to file a simple form or two and wait for a certain amount of time before distributing the assets.
In some states, it can be even easier: Inheritors can use a simple affidavit to claim assets. (An affidavit is a statement you sign in front of a notary, swearing something is true.) If you live in one of those states, you just have to wait a required period of time, then sign a simple, sworn statement that no probate proceeding is happening in your state and that you are the person entitled to inherit a particular asset--a bank account, for example.
Adding it up, what's in, what's not
When you are trying to determine whether or not an estate's value is below the Colorado small estates limit, the first thing to do is make a list of the assets. A simple spreadsheet or list will do.
Not everything a person owns counts, though.
Include only the things that pass to heirs and beneficiaries by will or, if there's no will, by Colorado intestacy laws, which determine who inherits if there is no will.