Putting together a will might seem frustrating or morbid. People can find countless reasons to delay or outright avoid the process. Some adults delay for so long that they die without any testamentary documents in place. Whatever assets they have in their name at that point are then subject to intestate succession rules.
Colorado state law provides very specific instructions about the descent of property when someone dies without testamentary documents. Some people justify their estate planning procrastination by raising the claim that those laws will protect the people they care about the most. Unfortunately, there are certain parties that have no protection whatsoever under intestate succession rules.
Unmarried romantic partners
It has become very common in the last few generations for people to make long-term commitments, cohabitate and have children together without legally marrying. One of the risks of that decision is the possibility that one partner might die without a will. The person who they may have shared their resources with for years would be left without any rights to their assets if they die without an estate plan. Instead, everything in the deceased party’s name would pass to their closest family members, including their children or possibly their parents.
Business partners and close friends
Some people have close, meaningful relationships that are not romantic or familial in nature. They may have shared years of their lives and countless adventures with a business partner or may live with a friend who is only a roommate. These individuals who share a close bond and possibly resources with the decedent will not have any rights to inherit resources from their estate if they die without a will.
Many people aspire to leave money for specific causes that matter to them, especially when they do not have spouses or children. Unfortunately, posthumous charitable bequests are usually only an option when someone has very carefully planned to set their resources aside for a specific organization. Wills or even trusts are typically necessary to pass resources to a nonprofit entity instead of individuals when someone dies.
Understanding the limitations of Colorado intestate succession rules can help people with specific plans for their resources recognize when crafting an estate plan will be necessary to achieve their goals.