We have all heard the horror stories of estates that took years to settle and cost tens of thousands of dollars in administrative fees and attorneys fees when CO wills are admitted to probate upon death. In contested estates, litigation can certainly be costly and very time consuming. However, most estates do not end up in litigation and are settled quietly through the probate process.

In many states, probate can be a very lengthy process for the average estate (8-18 months is not uncommon). In Colorado, however, a probate estate must be opened at least four (4) months from the time notice to creditors begins to run in the local newspaper. After this required creditor period, the estate can be closed once the assets have been collected, creditors have been paid, and all closing documentation has been filed with the probate court. Most estates can be closed within about six (6) months. Of course, if the personal representative must sell a piece of real estate or there is a dispute over a creditor claim, etc., this average time frame will be extended. But, in Colorado the average probate can be closed in a reasonable amount of time. Additionally, court costs for probate vary depending on the county, but they are quite reasonable. Attorney fees can become quite high in contested estates or when other complex matters are present, however, attorney fees must always be reasonable under the circumstances. Some attorneys charge a flat fee for probate settlement based upon the value of the estate assets, while others simply take an up front retainer fee and charge an hourly rate for their services. Often times, an attorney will give clients a choice between the two. In any case, the fee must be reasonable. Settling an estate takes time, and if done correctly it does cost money. But, it does not have to be overly time consuming and it should not be excessively expensive. Additionally, having properly created Colorado Wills gives your family clear directions and can reduce the potential delays during estate settlement period.