Whether there is a Will or not, if someone dies with titled property such as real estate or significant financial assets, the estate will need to be probated so that a Personal Representative (i.e. executor) can be appointed to sign off on sale or transfer of the assets.

Probate in Colorado does not have a cost other than filing fee, and can be a relatively simple process. If the value of the estate is under $65,000, then the estate can be probated informally.

If over $65,000 the probate process will be formal, which simply requires a few more steps. All potential heirs to the estate must be notified of the probate process and given a chance to receive information. Creditors must receive notice via newspaper notice.


A guardianship is a court order that designates a person or persons to take care of the physical needs of a minor or incapacitated adult. A guardian is under the court’s rules and jurisdiction for the duration of the guardianship, and an annual written report is required to be submitted to the court. When guardianships are sought for children, judges will often grant only temporary guardianship for six months, which is the time required for the guardian(s) to establish legal standing to file for allocation of parental responsibilities (APR). An APR isn’t as restrictive and doesn’t require annual reports.

Guardianships for adults occur when a doctor certifies that someone over 18 years of age is not able to care for themselves, generally due to mental or physical incapacitation. If a person, such as an elder, has had the mental capacity to establish a medical power of attorney, that document generally nominates the same person to be a guardian if necessary. But having a medical POA can avoid the necessity of getting a guardianship for purposes of establishing elder care.


A conservatorship is a court order that designates a person or persons to take care of the financial needs for a minor or incapacitated adult. A conservatorship is established and operates similarly to a guardianship, but the annual reporting obligations are more extensive.

As with a guardianship, if a person executed a general power of attorney when they had capacity to do so, that POA will generally give the agent the authority to take care of the person’s (known as the ward) financial matters and will nominate the agent if a conservatorship is needed.

The information provided here is general information and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The facts of your specific situation will determine the accuracy and effectiveness of legal advice. You should always consult an attorney prior to taking action that can affect your legal rights.

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