My parents, in Colorado, would like my sister and I to be able to avoid probate when they pass away. They have a home (mortgage still in the process of being paid off) but not much in the way of other assets. It looks like one approach they could take is to put everything in a living trust. Alternatively, Colorado allows real estate to be left with with a transfer-on-death deed. A transfer-on-death deed would not cover the other assets such as bank and savings accounts, but these are small (i.e., less than $50K in total). Estates totalling less than $50K in Colorado do not have to go through probate. There is also likely to be a substantial amount of credit card debt as well which would need to be paid out of the estate at the time of death, as I understand it.
My question is: A transfer-on-death deed seems easier, but covers only the house. Does the house (worth much more than $50K) still count as part of "the estate" even though it has a transfer-on-death deed attached to it (meaning that the heirs would have to pay the full cost of probate - attorney's fees, etc. - merely to handle the transfer of the small bank accounts)?