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Colorado Probate and Estate Tax Laws

No one wants to imagine a friend, family member, or themselves passing away, but it's inevitable. Before the inevitable happens, it's important to figure out what happens next. When a person, legally known as the “decedent,” dies, the possessions they leave behind are known as an “estate.” An estate can be anything from physical property like land or furniture to financial interests like stocks or retirement benefits.

Settling the decedent’s affairs after they pass is referred to as estate administration and generally occurs under the supervision of a probate court. The exact results of the administration will generally depend on the specific circumstances of the estate, and whether he or she died “intestate” (without a will) or with an invalid or contested will. This is a quick summary of probate and estate tax laws in Colorado.

Probate and Estate Tax Statutes in Colorado

The following table outlines Colorado’s probate and estate tax laws.

Code Sections

COL. REV. STAT. §15-10-101, et seq.: Colorado Probate Code

Types of Estate Administration

Small estates (under $50,000 and no real property): Devisees or heirs may collect assets by using an affidavit and do not have to open a probate action through the court.

Uncontested estates (informal): Informal process generally allowed when there is a valid will or clear intestacy, no contests are expected, and there is a qualified personal representative ready to be appointed.

Contested estates and invalid or questionable wills (“formal”): Formal probate may be required for several reasons, including when a will is contested, unclear, invalid, or when there are apparent or actual significant challenges in administration.

Both informal and formal probates must be open with the court for at least six months, but full administration of the estate may take much longer.

Family Allowances

A reasonable allowance in money out of the estate for their maintenance during the period of administration. May not continue for longer than one year if the estate is inadequate to discharge allowed claims.

What Assets Go Through Probate?

A person’s real and personal property at the time of his or her death.

What Assets Skip Probate Entirely?

Property from the estate in the form of cash in the amount of or other property of the estate in the value of thirty thousand dollars in excess of any security interests therein. May increase with cost of living adjustments

Estate Taxes

Colorado has no estate tax for decedents whose date of death is on or after January 1, 2005.

What Other Taxes Must be Paid?


Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Colorado Probate and Estate Tax Laws: Related Resources

Estate decisions are serious matters, navigating the probate process can be difficult. If you would like legal assistance with a probate or estate tax matter, you can also visit FindLaw’s sections on Probate Basics, Estate Tax Laws, and Colorado Estate Planning Laws for more articles and information on this topic.

Have Questions About Colorado's Probate and Estate Tax Laws? Ask an Attorney

Estate and probate issues are truly unfortunate. They delay the settling of an estate, cause financial loss, and can result in confusion and resentment. The best way to avoid problems with your estate plan or during the probate process is to consult with a local tax lawyer when you have questions about Colorado's probate and estate tax laws.

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