Colorado probate can be a complicated process even when estates are relatively simple and modest. That is because, in general, there are a number of phases associated with probate, and each of these stages can have its own specific deadlines and procedures.
For personal representatives overseeing the probate of an estate, juggling all of the responsibilities that come with this position can be overwhelming, especially when considering the fact that these representatives can be held personally responsible for any missteps they may make along the way.
To help these people understand what could complicate the probate process – and cause them to be sued for breach of fiduciary duty, below we have pointed out some of the more common probate mistakes to avoid making.
The Don’ts of Colorado Probate: Here’s What to Avoid Doing
- Paying all creditor claims without carefully reviewing them first – When a probate case opens up and the personal representative notifies all possible creditors of the death, a lot of debt collectors may come forward to try to collect some outstanding debt.Personal representatives should be aware, however, that not all of these parties will have legitimate debt claims, as some may be scams, others may be expired debts, etc. So, carefully look over each debt claim submitted against the estate before paying anything out.
- Co-mingling assets of the estate with personal assets – This will usually constitute a breach of fiduciary duties, as personal representatives are required to maintain the assets of the estate distinct from their own.If there is an administrative need to transfer certain assets into the personal representative’s accounts or possession, it’s crucial that these assets are given some special designation to keep them as “separate” as possible to help avoid allegations of breaching fiduciary duties.
- Failing to keep accurate accounting records for the estate – As personal representatives work through the probate process, they will be required to maintain up-to-date, accurate accounting records for the estate, clearly documenting the payments from and income to the estate.While these records will have to be submitted to the court on at least an annual basis (if probate is open for longer than a year), they also must be made available to the beneficiaries upon request. Failing to comply with any of these accounting requirements can, again, result in allegations of breach of fiduciary duties.
- Not retaining a lawyer to help with the process – This could be the single most costly probate mistake personal representatives can make because retaining a lawyer can help them avoid any of the above (or other) probate mistakes. What’s more is that the assets of the estate can be used to cover the costs of hiring a lawyer to help settle an estate.
Contact a Trinidad and Pueblo Estate Planning Attorney at Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth
For experienced help getting through Colorado probate and settling an estate, contact a trusted Trinidad and Pueblo estate planning attorney at Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth.
To learn more about our superior legal services and how we can assist you, contact us by calling (719) 556- 8844 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page.
From our offices based in Pueblo, we represent clients in Trinidad, La Jara, Lamar, Walsenburg, Alamosa and throughout the state of Colorado.