Probate and Inheritance
Colorado Real Estate
My Parents House
- By Bill Greene
When it comes to searching online for ‘Probate and Inheritance Colorado Real Estate My Parents House’ – or simply how to secure a deceased parent’s house – I’ve found that the lack of clear information was astonishing. As an adopted ‘only child’, my elderly parents died within months of each other. My initial concern was simply to get their house secured in my name in deed and title here in Colorado (and, hopefully, without paying an attorney).
I typed these keyword questions/phrases into my search engine:
Probate inheritance Colorado real estate my parents house
How do I get my parents’ house in my name?
How do I transfer deed of my parents’ house to me?
My parents died. How do I get their house in my name?
Colorado title and transfer deeds
How do I get deed to my deceased parents’ house?
ALL I WANT IS SOME DAMN INFORMATION ABOUT HOW TO GET TITLE TO MY FOLKS’ HOUSE!!!
Ok, well…I didn’t type the last phrase, but that’s how I felt! My quest was simple: I simply wanted to know how to transfer the title of my late parents house into my name. How hard can that be??
“Though probate, from the Latin probare, “to test or prove,” is usually used for wills, it can also be applied to other legal documents, as in the proving of the validity of a document, or an official certification proving the document is real.”
Hopefully, if you’re in this life-changing situation, I might be able to help. Firstly, while I was raised by one of the best attorneys in the State of Colorado, I am not an attorney. The following information is anecdotal and your results will likely be very different – based on if you have siblings, where you live, and if your parents wrote up an iron-clad Last Will & Testament. I advise you to hire an estate attorney to guide you through the process. In fact (and unlike my situation), if you have siblings and/or a lack of an iron-clad will, then you MUST hire an attorney to deal with this.
Here is what I learned about Title/Deeds Inheritance Probate issues in Colorado:
- One or both of your parents has their house in their name either as a single owner or as “joint tenancy”. You will know it’s “joint tenancy” if you see any insurance or tax bills addressed to them as “John Doe & Wanda Doe, JT”. JT = Joint Tenancy. This means that if one parent dies, the other becomes the default owner of the property. In divorce or separation, this might still be an issue in rare situations, but unlikely. You can also likely discover nearly everything you need to know about the property by going to your county’s online Tax Assessor Property page.
- We’re presuming both parents have passed, so now is the time to find the Last Will & Testament. To find it, dig into desk drawers, call your family attorney or eldest sibling or closest aunt/uncle. There’s a good chance that they don’t have a Will; try not to be judgmental if they don’t – because you likely don’t have one, either.
- If you DO HAVE their will, take it down to the county court in which county they resided. If it’s a solid will, then the adjudication can be done in hours. You (or one of your siblings) will be assigned as Personal Representative with a Letter of Testimentary (also known as “Letter of Representation”) and you will be issued ‘original’ Death Certificates. Buy 10 certificates of each parent. Then, make an additional 5 copies of each. This will likely be more than enough. You will need to mail or submit certificates to many parties of your parents estate for the next three to ten years! If you can just send a photocopy to such entities, then do that – as the originals with State Seal are costly – and most entities will ask for such originals. Here is a link to help you find your probate court (and yes, it’s about as clear as mud – but just make it a goal to find the correct district and then the correct address to the court – then just go down there and ask around!) https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/District/Choose.cfm
- If you’ve been blessed with an iron-clad will and an easy award from the County as a Personal Representative of the Estate, and you’re walking out of the courthouse with a Letter of Testimentary and Death Certificates, you now have some simple work to do: Secure all bank accounts immediately as well as any banks with safety deposit boxes. For your parent(s) checking/savings accounts, do not close them! Simply change them over to a single checking account in the name of “ESTATE of JOHN DOE (or WANDA DOE)”. The bank will give you a checkbook that you have full control of for withdrawls, deposits, and payments. Expect to pay off and close accounts still open in your parent(s) name. Also, be aware that the checking account might still be receiving automatic payments from such entities as pensions, VA/military benefits, and/or social security entitlements. In most cases, these accounts should not receive any further payments after the month of registered death. If you DO receive payments beyond that, you might likely be legally liable for refunding those monies.
(Ask me how I know!)
- Congratulations! You’ve finally secured control your parents’ estate! Finally, we can get to the root of this post. How do you get your parents house in your name? You’ll now need a “Quitclaim” deed. Quitclaim Deeds from Bradford Publishing can be purchased at Heritage Cards & Gifts at 7475 East Arapahoe Road in Littleton, or online at Bradford Publishing. Buy two of them, just in case. Take both parents’ Death Certificates, your Letter of Testamentary, and Quitclaim deed down to your County Clerk & Recorder’s office. They will guide you on how to properly fill out the form. If you have a spouse or sibling who will be a “joint tenant” or “tenant in common”, respectively, be sure that you bring them, too. You (and all parties) will sign an official Representative’s Deed of Distribution. Then, you’ll go to the Recorder’s desk, where they will scan and record those documents. You’re done! ….unless….
- CRUD! There are liens or other title problems on your parents property! Ok, this happens 6 out of 10 times. For example, you might have to pay off a construction lien from a home-improvement vendor or landscaper. Fine. Meet them in-person and, before you hand off a check, make them sign a lien release waiver. Most title issues can be cleared up in the Title Process when you sell the inherited property.
- IF YOU DO NOT HAVE a Final Will & Testament document from your parent(s), get with your siblings and try as best you can to do two things: Decide which sibling should be appointed as Personal Representative and then call an estate and probate attorney. Mostly, just call an attorney; you can’t get around this part, so just embrace it. At this point, you can expect weeks of waiting for the court docketing/scheduling plus months of waiting for final judgement of probate. Simple Probates can take 4 to 6 weeks. Even if you DO have a will in hand, but have siblings (unlike me), then you are probably in a “tenancy in common” situation – which must go through probate. It’s normal.
- Estranged from one or more of your siblings? Dang. That’s too bad, because now you must do everything possible to find and contact that sibling – even as uncomfortable as that may be. It will be worse if you try to pretend that they don’t exist. Not doing so, will tie up the probate process. Even if your parent did leave you with a Last Will & Testament, and other family members are involved (aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews), they all must be found and notified – to the best of your ability.
- Do you have one sibling who insists on living in the house, now that it’s vacant and he/she inherited it? This is quite common to at least want to do this, even if it’s YOU. However, you and your siblings each have legal obligations once the estate has been awarded through probate. Any sibling who wants to live in the house, must legally buy out the other siblings’ ownership of the property. Conversely, the other siblings can legally force the occupying sibling to sell his/her interest.
LASTLY, in the vast majority of situations, securing the estate, obtaining legal deed and title, and finally liquidating all assets to heirs is a simple but time consuming process. Most heirs want a simple and fast liquidation of the property, so that each can move on with their lives and also take care of their own financial responsibilities. If this is your situation, please call me as soon as possible so that I can work with you – and your attorney – through the process.
I always pay fair market value of inherited properties, close quickly, pay with all cash, and avoid realtors and their commissions that eat into lifelong equity. You and your siblings don’t need to worry about repairs, cleaning, or even liquidating other personal property. I can donate that or set up an estate sale for you as part of my service to you.
Please call me, Bill Greene, at 720-744-0404 if you have any other questions or would like a referral to a trusted Probate/Estate Attorney.
DEFINITIONS & LINKS:
is 50% of ownership to the property, commonly a husband & wife or two partners. When one dies, the party of the remaining 50% ownership automatically is in default receivership of property without any probate.
Tenants in Common:
is any percentage of ownership between parties. This needs to go through probate upon one party’s death.
is a property owned by a Trust or Certificate of Trust. Sometimes, Trusts disallow selling of property. If property is held by a Trust, title company needs a Certificate of Trust and a copy of the Trust.
A letter awarded by the court to a surviving heir who is designated as the Representative of the Property and who can make all legal decisions of same.
Allows for opening of an account for an Estate – commonly, and “LLC”.
Procedure of action when one owner is only a partial owner of property and refuses to vacate the premises so that it can be sold.