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Probate, Estate and Trust Administration

When a loved one dies, there are often matters of probate, estate, or trust administration for grieving family members to deal with. An experienced Denver probate lawyer at Phillips & Blow, PC in Denver Colorado can provide compassionate, knowledgeable representation to guide you through the legal process. Contact us today at (303) 741-2400 to get the legal help you need in a difficult time. You may also reach us through our online contact form.

Why Choose A Denver Probate Lawyer From Phillips & Blow, PC?

  • Our lawyers have more than 20 years of experience handling all matters of estate law for our clients.
  • John R. Philips, our firm’s founder, is a Certified Financial Planner and an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver.
  • We provide open, transparent communication to our clients and any beneficiaries.

The Definition of Probate

What is probate? It is the legal process by which a deceased person’s estate is distributed to designated beneficiaries or heirs of the decedent and debts owed to creditors are paid off. If a valid Last Will and Testament exists, the property of the estate is distributed according to the will. If the decedent died intestate (with no will) the property is distributed to the heirs according to state law.

When Is Probate Required?

Whenever someone dies with assets that did not pass automatically to beneficiaries (such as those held in living trusts, joint tenancy, beneficiary designation, payable on death and transfer on death), probate is required. At the law firm of Phillips & Blow, PC, we are experienced in both testate (for someone who died with a valid will) and intestate (for someone who died without a will) probate. Our lawyers practice in all counties in the south Denver metro area and elsewhere in Colorado. We are also experienced in administering estates held wholly or partially in living trusts.

What Assets Are Not Subject to Probate?

Not all assets have to go through the probate process. Some transfer automatically upon the death of the owner. Examples include:

  • Property held in joint tenancy: When a property is held in joint tenancy, such as a home belonging to a husband and wife, when one joint tenant dies, the surviving joint tenant becomes the sole owner of the asset. This is known as the right of survivorship.
  • Tenancy by the entirety or community property with right of survivorship: These forms of ownership, only available to married couples, function in the same way as joint tenancy. The survivor automatically takes ownership of the entire property upon the death of the other tenant.
  • Beneficiary designations: Life insurance policies and retirement accounts have named beneficiaries. When the policyholder or account owner dies, the beneficiaries are entitled to the proceeds of the life insurance policy or the assets in the retirement account. There is no need to go through probate.

Informal Probate

Most probate proceedings are informal, wherein heirs and beneficiaries are in accord and there are no creditor problems to resolve. To begin the process, you file an application to serve as personal representative of the estate with the probate court. When your application is approved by the court, you receive a document known as Letters Testamentary granting you legal authority to act for the estate. There are a series of actions the Personal Representative must take and documents that must be filed with the court before the property can be distributed, the debts and taxes can be paid, and the probate closed with a final accounting and closing statement.

Formal Probate

A formal probate can be unsupervised or supervised. Both are court proceedings.

  • In an unsupervised formal probate, the judge must approve certain actions taken by the Personal Representative, such as paying attorney fees, distributing assets, or selling estate property. The purpose of involving the court is to have a judge determine the meaning of the will or amounts due to creditors and to settle disputes over the distribution of assets among beneficiaries.
  • In a supervised formal probate, a judge supervises the entire process. In this type of proceeding, all distribution of property must be approved by the court.

What We Bring to the Probate and Estate Process

Our lawyers bring to the probate and estate process not only significant experience and competence but also compassion and counseling to help families through this difficult period. From simple situations to complex technical issues, and from good family relations to bitter squabbles, we have guided many families through the legal minefield as well as the difficult personal relationship issues that may arise during the probate process.

  • We can represent the estate and the personal representative, as well as a specific family member, to make sure that the estate is being handled appropriately.
  • In addition to probate administration, we handle estate administration and trust administration, including the filing of federal estate and gift tax returns and fiduciary accounting.
  • Attorney John Phillips has taught classes in the tax aspects of probate (fiduciary tax reporting and estate taxes) and is able to help minimize estate taxes and other tax impacts of probate.

Call Today for a Free Consultation

Call Phillips & Blow, PC today at (303) 741-2400 to speak with a Denver probate lawyer. You can also fill out the contact form on this website to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

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