In the state of Colorado, most estates will go through the legal process known as probate, which allows assets to be properly distributed to inheritors. Probate is the court proceeding that names an Executor (Personal Representative) and begins the process of distribution. The Executor is formally granted authority to pay all debts and taxes the estate owes, and he or she can then distribute the remaining value of the estate to heirs. Probate can be a taxing process. It can be both time-consuming and expensive when you don’t understand it. Here, we’re breaking down the costs and giving you other information to help alleviate some of the stress.
The cost of probate in Colorado, and how long the process will take, varies depending on several aspects related to the estate. Some of these may include:
Where the estate is located (different counties can have different fees)
How complex and big the estate is
What Estate Plans are or are not in place (is there a Living Trust? Is there a Will?)
If anyone contests
It’s hard to state an average cost of probate in Colorado without having several pieces of specific information. That’s why understanding probate can be useful if you’re about to embark on a probate journey.
Common Probate Fees in Colorado Like any state, probate fees in Colorado will depend on numerous factors. That said, there are some pretty common fees most estates will incur along the way. Keep in mind, most of these fees will come out of the estate, not the pockets of the family or Executor.
A filing fee
Other court fees
Attorney fees (if you use a probate attorney)
Executor fees (can vary; two percent of the estate value is common; can be waived by formally filing a fee waiver with the courts)
Additional professional fees may be paid to Accountants, Land Surveyors, Appraisers, etc.
Probate Bond, if necessary - amount determined by the court and based on estate value + future income
Common Questions About Probate in Colorado
How Long Does Probate Take in Colorado?
The average time it takes to go through the probate process in Colorado is nine to 24 months. Very complex estates can spend years in probate. Informal and formal probates both must be open in a Colorado court for a minimum of six months, but the full administration can (and often does) take much longer.
What is UPC in Colorado? Colorado (along with 17 other states) adopted what’s known as the Uniform Probate Code (UPC). The code was an attempt to nationally streamline the probate process. UPC notes there are three types of probate proceedings:
How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost in Colorado? Probate attorney fees in Colorado generally range anywhere between $3,500 - $5,000. This amount can be smaller or much larger depending on factors such as the size of the estate, whether or not there are any other special circumstances, the experience of the attorney and other things.
How Can You Avoid Probate in Colorado? The probate process isn’t always necessary in Colorado. It can be avoided if:
The estate value is under the “small estate” threshold (more on that below)
There is a Living Trust that holds most of the assets
Property and assets are held or owned in Joint Tenancy or have a valid beneficiary designation
The total estate value is less than $50,000 in personal property and there is no real property at stake
*Colorado state law notes that a decedent's Will must be filed in the district court he or she lived. This must be done within 10 days after passing, regardless of whether or not probate is expected.
What is Considered a Small Estate in Colorado?
In Colorado, a “small estate” is any estate valued at less than $65,000 with no real property (adjusted annually for inflation). The procedure requires that heirs and beneficiaries use an Affidavit to state assets and swear they have a right to them. They also have to swear they’ll distribute any other assets accordingly.
Who Pays Probate Fees in Colorado? Virtually all probate costs (including probate lawyer fees) in Colorado are paid for out of the estate. This would be done prior to any distributions being made to beneficiaries and heirs.