Colorado Court Records
How Does The Denver Probate Court Work?
The Denver Probate Court encompasses all of the City and County of Denver. It is sometimes referred to as the 24th judicial district. Under Article VI § 9(3) of the Colorado Constitution, the Denver Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over:
- Settlements of estates of decedents;
- Appointment of guardians;
- Conservators and administrators, and resolution of their accounts;
- Adjudication of the mentally ill;
- All probate matters; and
- Any other jurisdiction as provided by law
Generally, probate is the legal term associated with transferring a decedent’s assets to the appropriate devisees (those named in the will) or heirs (where there is no will). That way, a decedent’s estate or asset may get settled under the supervision of the court. During the judicial procedure, the court is obligated to prove that a decedent’s will is valid. The properties will be identified, inventoried, and appraised. All debts, including taxes, must be paid before the assets are distributed according to the will’s instructions. In cases where no executors are appointed in the will to supervise the process, a judge will appoint one.
There are three kinds of probate procedures for both wills and intestate (without a will) estates in Colorado; affidavit, informal, and formal processes. Where a deceased person’s asset is $50,000 or less, and no real property is involved, devisees or heirs may collect such assets through an affidavit without having to involve the court. To collect the asset, devisees or heirs will be required to swear that they are entitled to the property and will distribute it to any other entitled persons.
The Denver Probate Court may be involved in an informal process for a probate issue in Denver County. There is a legal will or clear intestacy for an informal probate process, no contests are anticipated, and a qualified personal representative is available for appointment. The Denver Probate Court plays a limited role in such cases, only supervising that the directions in the will or intestacy law are observed.
The Denver Probate Court is fully involved in formal probate issues arising in Denver County. Formal Probate Court procedures are necessary when a will is contested, unclear, invalid, or when there are seeming or actual significant challenges in the administration of a will.
Note that at least 120 hours must have passed since a death before the Denver Probate Court can act on a probate petition. The assigned representative overseeing a probate case is also required to be above the age of 21. The Denver Probate Court may hold ancillary proceedings in cases where personal representatives appointed in another state, or a foreign representative, wishes to have their letters recorded in Colorado for business to be readily conducted there. For instance, a person designated as a personal representative in Arkansas may need to sell Colorado property belonging to the deceased person’s estate.
Among other duties, the Denver Probate Court provides procedural and general information to parties without attorneys. Interested parties may visit the Denver Pro Se Center in Room 281 of the City and County Building, 1437 Bannock Street. Court forms for the Denver Probate Court may be downloaded from the Court Forms page.
Note that the Denver Probate Court only hears probate issues in Denver County. Probate issues in other counties in Colorado must be directed to the district court of that county. In 2020, the Denver Probate Court, under the Chief Judge Administrative Order, began hearing petitions filed in Denver County for Extreme Risk Protection Orders, otherwise known as ERPO or the Red Flag Law HB 19–1177. ERPO orders a person to surrender their firearms and other concealed carry permit to law enforcement. ERPOs are typically filed against persons perceived to pose a significant risk of causing personal injury to themselves or others by having or receiving firearms. Factors such as dangerous mental health crises, violent behavior, threats of self-harm, and abuse of drugs or alcohol are viewed as risk pointers. Persons alleged to pose significant risks are referred to as respondents.
Before issuing an ERPO, the Denver Probate Court considers whether a respondent meets the criteria for a court-ordered evaluation for individuals with mental health disorders under section 27–65–106 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. The Denver Probate Court must also ascertain that a respondent fulfills the criteria for an emergency commitment under section 27–81–111 and 27–82–107 of the C. R. S. If the court determines that the conditions are met, an ERPO will be issued along with an emergency commitment order in line with the same statute.
A petition for an ERPO may be filed by a law enforcement officer, a law enforcement agency, or the respondent’s household member or family. By law, Colorado defines family or household members as anyone:
- Related by blood, marriage, or adoption to the respondent;
- Who regularly live or have regularly lived with the respondent within the past six months;
- Who is a domestic partner of the respondent;
- Who has a legal parent-child relationship with the respondent, such as stepparents, stepchildren, grandparents, and grandchildren;
- Who has a child in common with the respondent;
- Who is acting or has acted as the respondent’s legal guardian; and
- Who is in an intimate relationship with the respondent.
Typically, cases in the Denver Probate Court last between 9 and 24 months. The Denver Probate Court does not provide an online resource for locating its case records. However, persons interested in obtaining a record may submit a request to the court in person or by mail. Mail requests must include a request letter, check for payment, and a self-addressed stamped envelope. The request letter must indicate as much information as possible, such as full names, county of residence, date of death, and the requester’s contact information. Mail complete requests by U.S. Mail to:
Denver Probate Court
City and County of Denver, State of Colorado
City and County Building
1437 Bannock Street, Room 230
Denver, CO 80202–5382
For in-person requests, visit the court’s location in Room 230 of the City and County Building in Denver. The Office is open Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (except on state holidays). Payment for the processing fee may be made in the form of cash, check, or by credit card. Checks must be made payable to the Denver Probate Court.
Standard processing fees are:
- Copies - $0.25 per page
- Search Fee - $5.00 per name
- Certification - $20.00 plus $0.25 per page copy fee (includes a single or group of documents)
- Exemplification - $20.00 plus $0.25 per page copy fee (includes a single or group of documents)
- File retrieval from off-site storage (where applicable) - $15.00
- Postage - Varies on request.
The initial $5.00 record search fee is required to be paid in advance. Upon receiving the request and payment, the file will be located, and the request processed. Usually, this takes between five to seven business days. The court may need to retrieve the file from its off-site storage, depending on the file’s year. Subsequently, the number of pages of the file is determined, and the court will contact the requester with the total processing fee through the provided contact information on the request letter. Alternatively, requesters may submit a blank signed check noting on the memo line not to exceed $50.00.
Upon receiving payment, the requested record search will be completed. Note that all fees are non-refundable, and the index for Denver Probate Court records only goes back to 1988. For more information on obtaining case records from the court, contact the Denver Probate Court front office at (303) 606–2303.
Requests may also be made for digital recordings of the Denver Probate Court by completing the Digital Recording Request form. The form does not represent a request for an official court transcript. The digital recording and its content are released for personal listening purposes only. Hence, such digital records are not accepted for filing. For official court transcripts, contact the Federal Reporting Service, Inc. at (303) 751–2777.
The Denver Probate Court has a presiding judge, a magistrate, a probate registrar, and a district administration who also acts as the clerk of court. A Denver Probate Court Judge must be a qualified elector and a resident of the court’s district. Such persons are also required to be licensed to practice law in Colorado for at least five years. A Denver Probate Court judge serves six-year terms and may be reelected at the end of each term until the mandatory retirement age of 72.