Cristyn: In Colorado, in probate, we have to deal with creditors. What the law says is, if the decedent passed away more than a year ago, great, we don’t have to worry about any unsecured creditors, their claims are forever barred. But if the person passed away, and it hasn’t been a year and we are opening a probate, what we need to do is get the probate process started, and we do this by filing notice in the right newspaper, that the person has passed away with information about the case and how to make their proper claims in court.

There’s a few more formalities, but for the basic level here, we get that process started. The probate is going to be, the creditor deadline is four months from the date the newspaper first ran, so creditors have that period of time to make claims properly or they’re barred. What’s important to know in Colorado, is when it comes time to dealing with the creditors that do make proper claims in court, we can negotiate.

If it’s an unsecured claim, so not talking about a mortgage, that’s a secured claim against the house, but an unsecured claim like a medical bill or a credit card bill, or a personal loan, there’s room for negotiation with the creditor. The person who can negotiate is the personal representative or the personal representative’s attorney on the personal representative’s behalf. They are able to ask if the creditor will accept less than the amount owed. A lot of times the answer is yes.

When you’re not using an attorney, you don’t know how to make that ask, you don’t know how to handle those different moving pieces that are involved inside the creditor deadline. One thing that I will say that’s important, whether it’s my firm or a different law firm, that you look at hiring a probate attorney to help you through your Colorado probate as the savings on creditors alone, usually more than pays for the probate itself because we know what we’re doing and we know which claims need to be paid, which claims don’t need to be paid, and which of the claims we have to pay that we can negotiate and save the estate money on versus having those claims paid