Colorado law establishes the court-appointed position of public administrator to act as a fiduciary in certain probate matters, usually when no one connected to the person or family involved is available or willing to serve. Attorney Marco Chayet has served as the public administrator in the Colorado 18th Judicial District since the court appointed him in 2014.
The roles and duties of a public administrator in our state include:
- Investigating, securing and protecting the property of someone who dies without either an heir or someone named as a personal representative in the decedent’s will who could do so
- Making funeral, burial or cremation arrangements for a person who dies without an interested person to do so
- Administering an estate when no one eligible is available or willing to do so
- Acting as a special administrator of an estate when requested by a creditor of the estate (in which case the creditor pays the public administrator’s fees and costs)
- Administering a small estate by affidavit
- Acting as a conservator or trustee to protect the assets of a vulnerable person or of a trust, sometimes by referral of a county human services department
- Acting as a conservator to protect the assets of a missing person or someone detained or outside the country and unable to return, if no interested person has taken these steps
A public administrator is normally an attorney and must be a resident of the judicial district where appointed. The role is extremely important for the protection of real estate, personal property, money and accounts of a vulnerable person or a decedent without anyone close to do so. It is a position of public trust, professionalism and detailed understanding of the various probate processes and related Colorado laws.