Are you wondering why your anticipated inheritance from a deceased loved one’s will or trust was not what you expected? Do you feel you were unfairly left out of a will or trust? Do you suspect someone influenced your departed loved one to change their will or trust or that they altered it when they were impaired or disturbed? Alternately, if you were left property in someone’s will, are people contesting your right to that property?
If individuals cannot settle Colorado inheritance disputes alone, they can be resolved through mediation or litigation. Mediation involves an impartial third party who helps negotiate a settlement agreement collaboratively. Litigation involving an inheritance lawyer, also known as a probate or estate lawyer, takes place in and is resolved in probate court.
The Colorado estate dispute lawyers at Peakstone Law Group, LLC (formerly Patterson Weaver Law, LLC) understand that you may be dealing with grief and family inheritance conflicts at the same time. We believe you should not have to face these issues alone. Let our Colorado estate dispute attorneys help you understand your rights as a beneficiary or heir, protect your interests, and aggressively advocate for your rights in mediation or probate court.
Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your situation with our Colorado inheritance dispute attorneys.
What Is Inheritance Litigation in Colorado?
After someone passes away, their assets become an estate and are transferred to their heirs or beneficiaries after any debts are paid. The process of transferring assets is called probate.
Assets can include:
- Real property, such as homes and land
- Bank accounts
- Securities such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
- Personal property, including vehicles, furniture, jewelry, and antiques
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement accounts including IRAs, 401(k)s, and annuities
Not all these assets are necessarily subject to probate. Those owned in joint tenancy, payable on death, or with a named beneficiary will likely go directly to the co-owner or beneficiary.
Sometimes the transfer process is straightforward, especially when the deceased left a will or trust with clearly named beneficiaries and heirs, and all agree to its validity. However, when family members, close friends, or even business partners believe they have been wrongly disinherited, the asset transfer can be contentious, complicated, and lengthy.
Inheritance litigation is the process where lawyers representing the disputing parties work to mediate an agreement, negotiate a settlement, or go to court to determine the final resolution.
Common Inheritance Disputes
Inheritance disputes over wills or trusts are not uncommon and often involve questions or concerns such as:
- Does the will or trust meet legal standards?
- Is this the only document?
- Is this the most current document?
- Was the decedent fully aware of their actions when the will was executed?
- Does the will reflect what the decedent’s desires were?
- Was a relative intentionally included or excluded?
- Did someone pressure or influence the decedent to change the document?
- How can we interpret a particular desire by the decedent?
If any of these or other questions arise regarding your departed loved one’s estate, consult with an experienced inheritance dispute lawyer in Colorado at Peakstone Law Group, LLC.
Key Colorado Inheritance Laws – Who Can Claim Inheritance?
Colorado inheritance laws are complicated. Which ones apply to a given situation depend on many factors, such as whether an individual died with or without a will, the size of the estate, and the relationship of the relatives to the decedent.
It’s important to understand that most assets pass through a probate process, which establishes the validity of a will. Transferable assets do not go through probate but instead, transfer to the beneficiary.
Transferable assets might include:
- Property in a living trust
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement funds
- Certain securities
If an individual prepared a will, the requirements of the probate process depend on the size of the estate. There are three specific sizes: formal probate, informal probate, and small estate. Only if an estate is valued under an annually readjusted figure can it avoid probate by using a simpler affidavit process.
If the decedent died without a will, the probate of their assets follows the state laws establishing intestate succession. Under intestate succession, the allocation depends on whether the decedent has a surviving spouse, children, parents, or other close relatives.
Colorado inheritance laws provide for children and descendants of various types. For example, children considered during intestate succession can include children born during and outside marriage, stepchildren, adopted children, grandchildren, and foster children.
Furthermore, Colorado’s intestate succession laws dictate the spouse gets 100 percent of the estate if there are no living parents or children from other lineages. In other situations, the law provides first for the spouse, who receives a specified dollar amount of the assets. Any remaining assets are split between the spouse and other survivors.
Some lesser-known aspects of Colorado inheritance laws establish that:
- Individuals must survive a decedent by at least five days, or 120 hours.
- Relatives who share only half of a decedent’s bloodline are treated the same as any full-blooded family member.
- Immigration and citizenship status will not prevent someone from being an heir.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Inheritance Dispute in Colorado?
If you believe you are entitled to a portion of a decedent’s estate – or you think someone else is trying to claim more than their fair share – you should seek legal advice from a Colorado inheritance dispute attorney at Peakstone Law Group, LLC. Our lawyers are ready to review your options for contesting a will or trust, protect your inheritance to help you receive what is rightfully yours, and, if necessary, pursue a case in court. We can communicate with your family members and other parties involved in the case and protect you from harassment.
Contact Our Colorado Estate Dispute Lawyers for Legal Help
Our family inheritance lawyers at Peakstone Law Group, LLC., work with individuals and families across Colorado, including El Paso County, Pueblo County, Teller County, and surrounding areas. We stand ready to guide you through the probate process, address any inheritance conflicts that arise, and protect your rights to inheritance.
Contact our office today for a free consultation.