My Parent Just Passed Away: What Do I Do Now?

  • Estate Planning
  • , Wills
November 17, 2020

The passing of a parent brings grief, confusion and pain. It can also bring on a lot of stress, especially if your parent left behind assets and even more so if there is family conflict.

First, you should make funeral plans, obtain a copy of your parent’s death certificate, locate information on any assets your parent had, and locate their original Will (if one exists). Once you have collected this information, you should reach out to an attorney for guidance on next steps. Funeral costs and other costs of administration are reimbursable out of your parent’s assets before any distributions are made so you should keep recipts of any funds expended in planning the funeral or obtaining financial information.

If your parent passed away with a Will and/or a Trust, the terms of the Will and/or Trust controls how their assets are distributed and who serves as the Personal Representative (i.e., who will handle the administration of the Estate). If your parent did not have any estate planning documents, then Colorado law will dictate how your parent’s assets will be distributed. You may still need to file a probate action depending on what assets your parent had when they passed away and how those assets were titled. It is important to contact an attorney, so they can conduct an analysis of your parent’s estate planning documents (or lack thereof) and their assets. An attorney will be able to tell you whether you will need to file a probate and how the assets will be distributed.

If there is any real property in your parent’s name or their assets total over $70,000, you will be required to file a probate action. The asset limit of $70,000 applies to anyone who passed away in 2020. This figure changes based on the year your parent passed away. Probate is the process through which assets are transferred from the Decedent (your parent who passed) to whom they have elected to receive the property. Probate requires filing documents with the Court to appoint a personal representative. Before filing probate, you will need to determine who will serve as personal representative, whether your parent died with a will, and whether you will file formally or informally. If your parent had a Will, this document will likely identify the Personal Representative. If there is no Will, Colorado law dictates who has priority for appointment to serve as Personal Representative. It’s also important to note that just because there is a Will does not necessarily mean probate will be required. Finally, the decision to file formally or informally depends on several factors but mainly centers on whether you anticipate the probate will be contested by any family members.

Contact Our Attorneys Today

After the loss of a parent, the last thing you want is the added stress of trying to determine how to handle your parent’s assets. The sooner you can reach out to an attorney to assist with your next steps, the better. Contact our experienced probate attorneys at Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin today to help assist with how to handle your parent’s assets and to guide you through the probate process or assist with alternative options.

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