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Colorado probate: What about the debts of the deceased?

Wrapping up someone’s affairs after he or she has died is a complicated responsibility that falls to the person who is appointed by the court to be personal representative of the estate. One of the main duties of the personal representative in most situations is to put out direct or published notices to the creditors of the deceased according to the specific procedures established by Colorado law. The notice tells creditors that they can file claims either with the personal representative or the appropriate state court by a particular deadline as required by law.   

Here at Chayet & Danzo, LLC, our attorneys have years of valuable experience handling claims against estates from both sides. We represent creditors in their attempts to collect debts owed to them by deceased individuals as well as personal representatives who must give proper notices, evaluate the validity of claims, decide whether to try to negotiate a settlement with a creditor or pay the debt as claimed, and determine if the estate does not have enough value to pay all valid claims, the proper order in which to honor them. 

Colorado probate laws concerning debts 

It cannot be overemphasized how important it is to have legal guidance for these issues, whether you are a creditor or a personal representative. The laws and procedures involved are complicated, deadline driven and difficult to understand. For personal representatives, breach of their fiduciary duties could potentially result in personal liability, so legal advice can be crucial. 

A myriad of legal issues 

Some of the kinds of relevant legal questions that can arise include: 

  • Is anyone else jointly responsible for the debt such as a cosignor or joint account owner?
  • Does the debt survive the deceased person? For example, federal student loans normally are extinguished at the time of death, but private student loans normally survive the death.
  • Is the debt secured by property of the estate like a car or real estate?
  • Were all deadlines for notices, claim presentation, and claim payment or disallowance properly met?
  • What is the proper order in which the claims should be paid if the property is insufficient to pay all claims?
  • Does the estate have a counterclaim against a creditor?
  • And many more 

Our lawyers also regularly represent both personal representatives and creditors when debt disputes result in probate litigation. 

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