When someone dies, probate may be needed. Probate is a court process, where the court appoints a person to take charge of the person’s property. Probate is the official process that allows a deceased person’s bills to be paid, and property to be legally transferred. Usually in Colorado a probate is handled from start to finish without much fuss, and without anyone ever having to appear before a judge. There are a lot of forms involved, and some unfamiliar terminology.
Here are some terms often involved in a probate:
Intestate. If a person does not have a will, they are “intestate.” This means their property will be distributed to the people selected by Colorado law. Any adult can create a will and generally leave their property to anyone they want. (There are a few exceptions to this rule). A person who has a will is “testate.”
Heir. This is the person who receives the property of a decedent if there is no will or trust. Colorado law sets out who is an heir. It depends on the marital status and family relationships of the deceased person.
Will. A will does not avoid probate. A will controls and directs probate. A will chooses who will be in charge of the probate process, and describes where assets should be distributed.
Devisee. This is the person who receives a gift spelled out in a will.
Personal Representative. Colorado calls the person in charge of the estate a personal representative. Some other states refer to this person as an “executor.” The role is the same, just the name is different.