What Is Probate?

Probate is the process whereby a court determines what is the decedent’s last will and then appoints the Personal Representative to carry out the directions in the will. In Colorado and a few other states we have a thing called the Uniform Probate Code which allows the estate to be administered relatively easily, relatively quickly and relatively cheaply compared with most of the states in the nation.

Don’t you want to avoid Probate?

If we were in a majority of the states it would be important to avoid probate. In Colorado not so much.

How does a Trust avoid Probate?

Trusts don’t die. If I own a piece of property in another state and I die, then my heirs will need to probate my estate in that State in order to transfer the ownership to my heirs. If my Trust owns the real estate, at my death it will still own the real estate so the successor Trustee can transfer the real estate to my heirs without going through probate in that state.

What are some ways of avoiding Probate without creating a Trust?

The most common is Joint Tenancy where the survivor ends up owning the entire asset without going to court. Most married couples own their homes in Joint Tenancy. This applies to bank accounts and other assets as well.

If a person is named beneficiary of something, following the death of the owner it will then usually pass to them without probate. Life insurance is a good example of this.