For many people whose loved ones have passed away, their estate’s disbursement can cause headaches. Yet, the process is usually straightforward enough so long as they have a clear will or trust. But you may have a loved one who died without an estate plan whatsoever. This situation qualifies as intestacy. And it can leave potential beneficiaries scrambling and squabbling.

Understanding succession

When your loved one dies without a will or trust in Colorado, their non-probate assets, like retirement accounts or insurance policies, will pass to designated beneficiaries. Yet, their probate estate will follow Colorado’s line of intestacy succession. The order of succession is:

  • Your loved one’s spouse or partner in a civil union
  • Individuals named in a Designated Beneficiary Agreement (DBA)
  • Your loved one’s children or their descendants
  • Your loved one’s parents
  • Your loved one’s siblings or their descendants
  • Your loved one’s grandparents or their descendants

Potential problems

Your loved one may have lived with a partner who they were not married to, but commingled assets with. They may have intended for this partner to receive the contents of their probate estate. Yet, Colorado law prevents them from inheriting it if they were not named in their DBA. Furthermore, your loved one’s relatives may also claim to have information about their intentions for their estate. These details can cause disagreements if they go against intestacy succession. But if these wishes went unrecorded upon your loved one’s passing, they cannot go into effect.

Dealing with the estate of an intestate loved one often creates more confusion than clarity. While understanding Colorado’s succession laws can ease the process, you will not want to go through it alone. An attorney with probate experience can provide the help you need.