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A Simple Guide to Probate Appeals In Colorado and Seeking Review of Probate Court Decisions

Dealing with the probate process in Colorado can be a bit of a puzzle, not to mention emotionally taxing.

You might be at odds with a probate court decision, whether you’re the executor, a beneficiary, or an interested party. In such cases, you can go for a probate appeal and request a review of the court’s decision.

This guide aims to provide a straightforward overview of how probate appeals work in Colorado and help you grasp the steps involved.

Getting the Hang of Probate in Colorado

Before we dive into the details of probate appeals, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of how the probate process in Colorado works. Probate is the rulebook for dealing with a deceased person’s assets and estate. It typically involves a few steps.

Getting Things Started

The process begins when someone files a petition with the Colorado probate court to open a probate case. This person could be the executor, named in the deceased person’s will, or an interested party if there’s no will (intestate).

Notification & Inventory

Once the court greenlights the probate case, they let everyone know who’s involved, including heirs and beneficiaries. The executor has to devise a list of the deceased person’s assets and debts.

Creditor Claims

Creditors have a limited time to file claims against an estate to collect debts owed.

Distributing Assets

After settling debts and expenses, any remaining assets get divided among the beneficiaries per the deceased person’s will or Colorado’s intestate succession laws if there’s no will.

Final Accounting & Closure

The executor presents the final bill to the court, and once the court gives it a nod, they wrap up the probate case.

Grounds for Probate Appeals

Probate court decisions in Colorado can be appealed for various reasons. Some are more common than others.

If the court made a significant legal blunder, like misunderstanding the law or implementing it incorrectly.

Procedural Errors

Appeals can also be based on procedural errors like not following the right court procedures or not giving everyone involved a fair shake at presenting their case.

Misconduct or Fraud

If someone involved in the process got caught doing something they shouldn’t have, like misconduct or fraud that influenced the court’s decision.

Issues in Fact-Finding

If the court made a factual error, it significantly impacted the case’s outcome.

Steps for Starting a Probate Appeal

If you believe there are valid grounds to appeal a probate court decision in Colorado, follow these steps to initiate the process.

Talk to a Lawyer

Talking to a Denver probate lawyer is smart before you roll up your sleeves and jump into the appeal pool. They can help you size up your case, provide solid advice, and give you the lowdown on your chances of success.

Determine Eligibility

Typically, only those directly affected by the probate court’s decision can appeal. This includes beneficiaries, heirs, and other folks with a clear stake in the game. You’d want to ask your probate attorney if you’re eligible or if you can be eligible.

File a Notice of Appeal

To kick off the appeal process, you must file a ‘Notice of Appeal’ with the same probate court that made the original decision. This notice should cover a few things:

  • A statement indicating that you are appealing the court’s decision.
  • The specific grounds for your appeal.
  • The case number of the original probate case.
  • Your contact information.

Ensure you file that notice within the set timeframe, usually within 49 days after the probate court’s final order. If you’re unsure about the deadline, chat with your Denver estate planning attorney to get the specifics for your case.

Pay The Fee

Starting a probate appeal in Colorado means you must cough up a filing fee. The cost can vary by county, so checking the local probate court for the current fee schedule is a good idea. You might be eligible for a fee waiver or deferral if you can’t afford the fee. Your attorney can help you sort out those details.

Inform Other Parties

Once you’ve filed the Notice of Appeal, it’s time to spread the news. You need to serve a copy of that notice to all the interested parties in the probate case.

That includes the executor, beneficiaries, and anyone with skin in the game. Notifying everyone is key to ensuring they know about the appeal and can respond.

Prepare Records

You must assemble all the relevant documents and transcripts from the original probate case. This bundle, called the ‘record’, will be the main menu for the appellate court to review the probate court’s decision. Your attorney will handle the legwork to gather and submit this record.

File The Opening Brief

After the record’s all set, you must file an ‘Opening Brief.’ This written document lays out your reasons for the appeal, including the legal and factual basis for taking issue with the probate court’s decision. Keep it snappy and straightforward when you present your case.

Responding Brief & Reply Brief

Once you’ve filed the opening brief, the other side can chime in with their ‘Responding Brief.’ They’ll use this document to present their counterarguments. Then, as the appellant, you can fire back with a ‘Reply Brief’ to address any points they raised.

Oral Argument

In some cases, the appellate court might set up an oral argument where you and the other side can make your cases in person. This is a chance to clear up any questions the appellate judges might have and give your arguments a little extra oomph.

Wait For The Court’s Decision

Once all the briefs and oral arguments are in the bag, the appellate court takes the time to mull things over and decide. This decision can uphold, reverse, or tweak the probate court’s original decision.

If you’re looking for support around probate appeals, an estate planning attorney can help you. Having a legal expert helps you protect your rights and interests during a difficult time.

Contact the Bourassa Law Group today to schedule a consultation with our dedicated estate planning lawyers in Colorado. We can help you with the appeal at every step, from determining whether you need to appeal to collecting documents and filing the notice.

Don’t face the probate journey alone—let us be your partners in securing your future. Reach out to us at (800)870-8910. Your peace of mind is our priority.

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