Probate is the process of the court finalizing your estate after your death. During this process, the court wraps up all of your affairs, including your debts, and ensures the validity of your will and other estate documents. At the end, your heirs receive whatever you left them and the court closes your estate.

In Colorado, according to the Denver Bar Association, there are three types of probate.

Formal

Formal probate is when there are issues with your estate, such as someone contesting. The process includes investigation and careful consideration of the validity of your will. The court must also identify your heirs, handle any disputes and work with your personal representative to manage the estate. Formal probate can be a lengthy process and must be at least six months long.

Informal

Informal probate is what happens if you have no issues with your estate and everything is very clear. The court does not suspect that anyone will contest, and it can begin to finalize everything as directed by your estate plan. Under the law, your case must remain in probate for at least six months, but informal probate typically wraps up more quickly than formal hearings.

Small estate

Small estate probate occurs if your estate has a value under $50,000 and you do not have real estate to pass onto heirs. This process is not technically probate as it allows your heirs to bypass the court and distribute assets on their own by using an affidavit swearing their right to the property. However, it does involve the legal probate process of verifying the validity of claims with the affidavits.