Probate and Wills

Denver Estate Planning and Probate Lawyers

Attorneys specializing in estate planning, probate, estate litigation.

We have been doing estate planning and probate law for more than 20 years.  Brian Stutheit is a member of the Elder Law section of the Colorado Bar.  He has been appointed by the courts in Denver and Arapahoe County as an attorney to make recommendations for resolution of probate cases. We office 15 minutes from the Jefferson County Court.

Protect your heirs and get your rightful inheritance.  Call 303-321-3017.

Too many clients are sold unnecessarily expensive estate plans.  We are not in the business of “selling” estate plans.  We are in the business of learning client goals, uncovering client needs, and recommending plans which meet the needs and goals for a fair fee.

Wills and Trusts

Advance Health Care Directive or Living Will: $225.  We frequently include this within the health power of attorney for no extra cost.
Beneficiary Deed to real estate: $250 plus recording fee. Can be a good way in small estates to avoid probate.  An alternative to making an heir a joint owner in the property right now.
Postnuptial or Prenuptial Agreement: $800. Important for second marriages with children from the first marriage.
Power of Attorney for finances and health care decisions: $270 individual, $400 couple
Simple Will (including will with guardianship and trust provisions for children): $550 individual; $800 couple
Temporary Guardianship for Children while parents are absent: $150


Powers of attorney

Most adults should have a current power of attorney for both finances and health care decision making. The power of attorney allows you to pick someone you trust to handle your affairs if you cannot do so yourself. It gives you peace of mind, reassuring you that in an emergency, someone you choose will have the authority to act for you. If you don’t have one and you are suddenly incapacitated, your family may have to go through an expensive and time-consuming court action to appoint a guardian or conservator to make decisions for you.

Probate Law

Generally, there are two types oprobate lawyers: those who handle the administrative side of probates – transactional attorneys, and those who represent clients in lawsuits, called probate litigators. Lawyers often specialize in administration of estates, but Stutheit & Gartland, P.C. knows administration and litigation. We know probate, but unlike many probate attorneys, we also litigate.  We are experienced, calm, confident trial lawyers.

Our  probate specialties are:

Decedent Estate Administration;

Guardianship and Conservatorship;

Trust and Estate Litigation;

Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Removal of Trustees or Personal Representatives;

Will Contests and Disputes Among Heirs;

Claims Against Estates;

Abuse of Power of Attorney;

Surviving Spouse Rights;

Fraud  and Undue Influence in making a will or trust.



Colorado Probate Lawyer


See these Stutheit & Gartland blog posts:

  • Duties of Colorado Trustees

    The first thing to do, always, in evaluating a Colorado trustee’s duty is to read the trust itself.  The trust document is more important than any case law in describing what a trustee may do, or must do. A trustee … Continue reading

  • Colorado probate law – executor conflict of interest

     Colorado probate law refers to an executor as the “personal representative” of the estate.  The personal representative is generally entitled to get involved in probate dispute litigation, and to bill the estate for his or her litigation expenses.  However, a … Continue reading

  • What to do when someone dies in Colorado

    What do I do first? The Denver Bar Association has brochures available online which give basic information about Colorado probate, wills, what to do when someone dies, and other estate related subjects.  Go to: Funeral homes can also give … Continue reading

  • Colorado law – Does an ex-spouse get the life insurance?

    Colorado statutes say a divorce or annulment revokes beneficiary designations to the former spouse.  The life insurance policy is treated as if the former spouse died before the spouse whose life was insured.  COLO. REV. STAT. section 15-11-804.  This default … Continue reading

  • Colorado – What to do when someone dies

    The Colorado Bar Association publishes an annual booklet called the Senior Law Handbook.  In the 2015 edition there is a useful chapter by Aaron L. Evans, Esq. entitled “What to Do When Someone Dies: Responsibilities of the Personal Representative and … Continue reading

  • Colorado trusts – trustee legal duty managing investments

    In this blog, Stutheit & Gartland summarizes the legal duty of a Colorado trustee when managing investments. Colorado follows what is called the “Prudent Man Rule” for trustees.  In managing property for a trust beneficiary, the trustee must exercise judgment … Continue reading

  • What happens to the body in Colorado after someone dies?

    Where death is by natural causes, and the person was under medical care, the family can make arrangements for a mortuary to take the person into its care right away.  Colorado does not license individual morticians, but “funeral establishments” must … Continue reading

  • Colorado Probate Cost – executor fees

    There is no explicit rule how much an executor (“personal representative”)  of a Colorado estate may charge. “A personal representative is entitled to reasonable compensation for his or her services.” COLO REV STAT § 15-12-719(1). In reviewing the reasonableness of … Continue reading

  • Dangerous Ways of Avoiding Probate

    Many Coloradans are convinced that probate is something to be avoided. I do not agree that probate is always, or even usually, bad. I believe that trusts are used too often and unnecessarily complicate many estates. Here are some common … Continue reading

  • Estate Planning Documents Everyone Should Have

    On April 20 the Wall Street Journal published a simple, but useful article entitled Four Estate-Planning Documents Everyone Should Have. The article is  available at the following url or web address: … Continue reading

  • Colorado law – trust registration

    In the following discussion, a reference to C.R.S. means Colorado Revised Statutes, law created by the legislature.  The symbol, “§”, is lawyer shorthand for “section”. Colorado has a statute which says the trustee of a trust having its principal place … Continue reading

  • Common questions about wills and estate planning – Colorado law

    1. What happens if I die without a last will? If you do not make a last will, Colorado law will determine who gets your property. This process is called “intestate succession.” Your property would first be divided between your … Continue reading

  • Fees in probate and conservatorships

    Q:  What is an appropriate rate to charge for services as guardian and conservator? A. An answer is usually something like “It depends on the circumstances.” Here are a few general guidelines: Family members often serve without a “fee” although … Continue reading

  • Colorado common law marriage and estates

    Q.  What is Common Law Marriage? A. Colorado recognizes common law marriage. The following guidelines are used to determine if a common law marriage exits: The man and women are free to enter into a marriage contract, neither is married … Continue reading

  • Colorado estate planning – everyone should know

    Denver estate planning attorney Brian Stutheit offers simple estate planning ideas everyone should know: 1) Every adult should consider having a health care power of attorney.  A medical directive instructs your loved ones and health care providers how you wish … Continue reading

  • Colorado Probate law – common law spouse

    It is obviously important under Colorado probate law to be a surviving spouse.  A surviving spouse cannot be disinherited unless he or she has signed a marital agreement (prenup or postnup contract).  A surviving spouse gets first dibs on a … Continue reading

  • Colorado probate law – abuse of trusts

    Our  Colorado probate lawyers have just finished two cases in which the creation of a trust backfired.  The heirs would have managed better with a simple trust and a court supervised probate estate.  In each case, the decedent had chosen, … Continue reading

  • Will – undue influence defined

    A will may be challenged on the theory that it resulted from undue influence.  The burden of pro0f of undue influence is on the person contesting the will.  Undue influence is defined as words or conduct which at the time … Continue reading