Colorado residents who are creating an estate plan might want to think about whether or not they want to try to avoid probate but it is not always a clear cut choice. Probate makes an estate plan public, so someone who is concerned about privacy might want to use beneficiary designations, a living trust and other tools to keep matters private.
Another reason to avoid probate is that it can be time-consuming. With a trust or a beneficiary designation, assets pass directly to beneficiaries. Timing can become a particular issue for a person who owns real estate in another state because this could mean probate in that state as well.
On the other hand, the public nature of probate can be advantageous. It may mean that an executor is subject to more scrutiny and less able to do anything dishonest. A complaint can be filed by anyone who is dissatisfied with the handling of the estate administration. Probate also certifies asset titles, and this makes challenges to ownership less likely.
Many people end up opting for a combination approach in which some parts of the estate go through probate while others do not. People may want to discuss options with an estate planning attorney. They should take into account their desire for privacy as well as the cost of these options in making a decision.
For example, trusts may have other advantages for an estate plan. If a person wishes to control how assets are distributed to beneficiaries or to protect assets from creditors, a trust might also be the right choice. People should also keep in mind that estate planning is not just about what happens to their assets. They may want to make plans in case of becoming incapacitated. Powers of attorney can appoint people to make financial and medical decisions in these cases.