When people die in Colorado, their estates might have to go through the probate process unless steps are taken to avoid it. The probate process can be long and expensive, and there are several factors that can make it drag out even longer.
Factors that can lengthen the probate process
Several factors can lengthen the probate process in court, including the following:
- Having multiple beneficiaries
- Having beneficiaries who live in other states or overseas
- Having probate assets in several states
- Naming an executor who does not have the time or knowledge to properly perform the tasks
- Having beneficiaries who do not get along with each other
- Having illiquid or unusual assets
- Being required to file the estate tax return
The probate process can last for months before the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. When one or more of these factors are also present, the process can drag on for many months or years.
People who want to avoid probate can do so in several ways. They can create revocable trusts while they are alive and transfer the titles of their assets to the trusts. When they die, their assets will pass outside of the probate process directly to their trust beneficiaries. Some assets can also pass outside of the probate process if they use things like transfer-on-death deeds for real property, payable-on-death designations for bank or investment accounts, and transfer-on-death titles for motor vehicles. Life insurance and retirement accounts pass directly to the named beneficiaries without being included in the probate estate.
Careful estate planning might help people to avoid the probate process. By choosing the right types of estate planning documents, people might ensure that their loved ones will receive their assets much faster instead of spending significant amounts of time and money during the probate process.