When you pass away without a will, it’s called dying intestate. When you die in this way, the state laws kick in and determine how your estate is handled. The intestacy succession laws in Colorado may not be what you expect, and they could negatively impact the distribution of your assets and distribute them in a way you wouldn’t be happy with.
Every state has intestate succession laws. However, each state’s laws are different. In Colorado, the rules are clear.
What happens when you pass away without a will in Colorado?
When you pass away without a will and have a surviving spouse but no children or parents, then your spouse will inherit the entire estate. The same is true if your spouse and children survive you (but only when those children are both your and your spouse’s children and not children from a previous relationship).
In a case where you have children from a previous marriage or relationship, your surviving spouse will receive $225,000 of your estate’s value and then 50% of what remains. Your children from a previous marriage would then inherit the remainder of the estate as an equal share split among them.
If your parents are still alive when you pass away, then they are entitled to a portion of your estate. Your surviving spouse would inherit $300,000 of the probated estate and 75% of the balance. Then, your parents would receive the remaining quarter.
What happens if you have no spouse?
Things get trickier if you have no spouse. In that case, your descendants would inherit the estate. If you have no children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren or other offspring, then your parents inherit the estate. If the parents are no longer alive, then siblings are next in line.
If there are no relatives, the entire estate escheats to the state. That means that the state receives the estate by default, because there are no other heirs.
To avoid this trouble, it’s a smart choice to start working on your estate plan and will. Doing so will make sure your assets go to those you want to support, not the state or heirs you’re not interested in leaving assets to.