If a person has a will, their beneficiaries often need to go through probate proceedings to receive the property allotted to them in the will. In probate proceedings, a court appoints a personal representative to administer the person’s estate to the intended beneficiaries. As a result, before receiving a single asset, the beneficiaries must participate in a long, complex, and confusing process. Thankfully, Colorado provides a few steps people can take while they are alive to spare their beneficiaries from probate procedures.
How Can You Avoid Probate in Colorado?
One way to prevent your beneficiaries from going to probate court is by creating a living trust. This document allows you to designate a succeeding trustee to transfer assets to your beneficiaries after death. Colorado law allows you to make living trusts for nearly any type of asset, including houses and vehicles, as well as bank accounts. To make a living trust, you can transfer ownership of your property to yourself as the living trustee of your estate. Then, with the help of an attorney, you can create a document that designates another person to take over as trustee after death. That succeeding trustee can then transfer your property to the trust beneficiaries without going through probate court.
You can also help your beneficiaries avoid probate by jointly owning property. If you own property with another person, your ownership may include a “right of survivorship.” Under this legal rule, when one owner of a jointly held property dies, the other owner automatically owns 100% of the property. This way, a surviving property owner can avoid probate and simply fill out paperwork showing that they are the sole title holder to the property. Similarly, Colorado allows you to establish joint tenancy. When one owner passes away, property owned under joint tenancy automatically passes to the surviving owners. Unlike most states, Colorado allows joint tenants to own different shares of the same property rather than requiring an even split. For example, you and your surviving spouse may own 90% of a family property, and your adult child could own 10%.
Finally, Colorado law allows you to make “payable-on-death” (POD) or “transfer-on-death” (TOD) designations for your property while you are alive. Under Colorado law, you can add a POD designation to your bank accounts. After death, the remainder of your accounts can go directly to your designated beneficiaries without going through probate court. Similarly, Colorado law lets you make transfer-on-death designations for stocks and bonds, real estate deeds, and registration of vehicles.
Contact a Colorado Estate Planning Attorney Today
Even if you have a will, your beneficiaries may have to endure complicated probate court proceedings to obtain the assets you wanted them to receive. To avoid probate, take action now and contact the Braverman Law Group for assistance. No matter where you are in the estate planning process, our skilled attorneys can help you create a plan to make sure your wishes will be fulfilled. Through our experienced representation, you can be sure your property transfers to your beneficiaries without complicated probate proceedings. To schedule a free phone consultation with a Boulder estate planning attorney on our team, call 720-821-6349 today.