Don’t rely on intestate laws instead of a will

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2021 | Estate Planning

When you are thinking about your estate, do you feel that the intestate laws in your state are going to protect your beneficiaries? The reality is that these laws rarely reflect a person’s true intentions for their assets. By relying on them, they’re leaving the distribution of the estate largely up to chance.

In Colorado, the intestate laws state that a surviving spouse will receive everything from the estate only when there are no children or parents surviving the decedent. If there are parents or children still living, then the estate may not completely pass on to the spouse. The exception to this rule is if only the spouse and their children are alive, in which case the spouse usually inherits everything.

Unrelated children add to the confusion

When there are unrelated children in the estate, this can make things more difficult. In that case, the surviving spouse will inherit the first $225,000 of the estate along with 50% of whatever else remains. The children would then inherit the remainder of the estate. Each child should receive an equal share. When those children are adults, the spouse’s share actually reduces further to $150,000 and 50% of the estate.

In the case that the decedent’s parents and spouse are alive but no children are involved, the spouse receives $300,000 and then 75% of the remaining balance of the estate. Each parent will then receive 25% of the remaining value of the estate. If only one surviving parent remains, they’ll get both shares as if the other parent was still living.

What happens if you die with no will and no spouse?

At that point, it is normally your parents who will receive your estate in equal shares. If you don’t have any descendants left, then your siblings, if you have any, will receive the estate. If they have passed away, their children may inherit your assets.

If you have no relatives at all, the entire estate will escheat, which means that it goes to the State of Colorado. This takes the money away from any others you might have wanted to have as beneficiaries, such as charities or friends.