Do You Need a Trust to Avoid Probate in Colorado?

Many people hear “probate” and immediately think of hassle, expense, and delays. While many estate planning fears are unfounded, probate proceedings can be just as daunting as they seem. Individuals may seek to avoid probate and make the process easier on their families and loved ones.

One way to avoid probate is through trusts, which are similar to wills but take effect while the benefactor or trustee is still alive. A living trust can avoid probate through the following steps: an individual makes a trust document and names a trustee that will take effect after the individual’s death. Before death, the individual creating the trust is the trustee, and will transfer ownership of the property in question to the trust. Upon your passing, the trustee you’ve named will be able to transfer the property to the trust’s beneficiaries and avoid probate.

But trusts are not the only way to avoid probate in Colorado. Read on for other mechanisms you can use to avoid probate. An experienced estate planning attorney can help determine whether any of these tools will be useful to you and your family to fit your unique needs.

Joint Ownership

Owning property with another individual can include a right of survivorship, in which the surviving owner becomes the sole owner of the property upon the passing of the other owner. This property transfer happens without going through probate, as long as the title is clear. In Colorado, this is referred to as joint tenancy and can apply to many types of property ranging from real estate to financial accounts. Unique to Colorado and a small handful of other states, joint tenants can own unequal shares of the property, meaning the property ownership doesn’t have to be split 50/50.

Transfer-on-Death Provisions

There are also several different types of assets that can have transfer-on-death provisions attached to them.

For example, stocks and bonds held in brokerage accounts can be registered as transfer-on-death, which means any beneficiary you name can automatically receive the account upon your passing without going through probate.

Real estate property can also be placed in transfer-on-death deeds or beneficiary deeds. Upon death the property will transfer to a beneficiary you name, but the beneficiary has no rights during your life. The property can be sold or the deed revoked by you any time.

Vehicles can also be registered with transfer-on-death provisions.

Finally, bank accounts of many types can be designated payable-on-death without sacrificing your control of the account. Your beneficiary will work directly with the bank, rather than through the probate process, to claim the accounts upon your death.

Call a Colorado Estate Planning Attorney

Call a Boulder estate planning attorney today to help you decide the best plan for you to avoid probate and make life easier for your family members and loved ones. Braverman Law Group can help with all of your estate planning needs, including trusts, wills, and planning for probate and taxes. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our trusted attorneys, give us a call today at (303) 800-1588.

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