This Could Happen to You

Filed Under (Wills and Estates) on 11-01-2011

dying without a will, intestate, probate law, die without a will, inheritance laws, the law of inheritance What Will Happen if You Die Without a Colorado Will?

Dying without a will is called dying “intestate” (i.e., without a “testament” or will). If you die intestate, the courts will use the Colorado intestate succession laws below to determine who inherits your estate.

Colorado’s Intestate Succession Laws

              IF YOU HAVE A SPOUSE AND DIE INTESTATE
IF no descendants or parents
    THEN your spouse gets it all.
IF all your descendants are also your spouse’s descendants
    THEN your spouse gets it all.
IF no descendants BUT parents
    THEN your spouse gets the first $300,000 of your estate plus 3/4 of what’s left
      AND your parents get the rest, divided into equal shares among your living
        parents.
IF all your descendants are also your spouse’s descendants
    AND your spouse has one or more descendants who are not related to you
      THEN your spouse gets the first $225,000 of your estate plus 1/2 of what’s
        left
          AND your descendants get the rest, divided into equal shares.
IF one or more of your descendants are not related to your spouse
    THEN your spouse gets the first $150,000 of your estate plus 1/2 of what’s left
      AND your descendants will get the rest, divided into equal shares.

              IF YOU HAVE NO SPOUSE AND DIE INTESTATE

IF no spouse and you have executed a designated beneficiary agreement for the
purposes of intestate succession
    THEN your designated beneficiaries get 1/2 and your surviving descendants get
      the other 1/2.
IF no designated beneficiaries
    THEN your descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) get it all, divided in equal
      shares.
IF no descendants
    THEN your parents get it all.
IF no parents
    THEN your parent’s other descendants (your brothers and sisters or their
      descendants) get it all, divided into equal shares.
IF no parent or brothers or sisters
    THEN 1/2 to your paternal grandparents equally if both survive, or to the
      surviving grandparent, or to the surviving descendants of your paternal grandparents
      in equal shares
And
    1/2 to your maternal grandparents equally if both survive, or to the surviving
      maternal grandparent, or to the surviving descendants of your maternal grandparents
      in equal shares.
IF no paternal grandparents or descendants but maternal grandparents and/or
their descendants
    THEN to the relatives on the maternal side in equal shares.
IF no maternal grandparents or descendants, but paternal grandparents and/or
their descendants
    THEN to those relatives on the paternal side in equal shares.
IF there is no one
    THEN the state of Colorado will get it all.

These laws are inflexible, so if you, your friends, or your family, do not like the result, there is little anyone can do. In many cases these laws may divide your estate in ways you never would have wanted.

It can be very confusing and if the court has to figure this out it will take a lot of time and cost more money than if you had left a will.

I think the bottom line here is: to save your loved ones time and money, make your will today.

For more information see, Planning a Will in Colorado, Bradford’s Legal Series.





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