What Happens if you Die Without a Will? Understanding Intestate Succession in Colorado

A will is a legal document dedicated to setting forth an individual’s wishes regarding the distribution of their property and assets as well as the care of their minor children. A will is the most established manner of ensuring that an individual’s wishes on those matters are accurately carried out. Wills are also helpful for an individual’s heirs, making sure that the division of assets is a smooth process.

What is Interstate Succession?

In Colorado, if you die without a will, your assets are distributed to your closest relatives under the Colorado interstate succession laws. In various states, the interstate succession process occurs when someone without a valid will or other legal declaration passes away. The court distributes their property according to the current state laws rather than a pre-existing plan prepared by the decedent or with input from those closest to them.

Which Assets Pass Through Interstate Succession?

In Colorado, the only assets that pass through probate are impacted by interstate succession laws. Subsequently, a large variety of valuable assets are not subject to interstate succession laws as they do not go through probate. Common examples of items that do not pass through probate and are not impacted by the interstate succession process include (1) property transferred to a living trust, (2) life insurance proceeds with named beneficiaries, (3) IRA, 401(k), and other retirement account funds with named beneficiaries, (4) securities held in transfer-on-death accounts, (5) real estate with a transfer-on-death deed, (6) vehicles with transfer-on-death registration, (7) payable-on-death bank accounts, or (8) property owned with someone else in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety. Such assets will pass to the surviving co-owner(s) or named beneficiaries regardless of the existence of the existence of a will. One exception to this rule is if no will exists, and the named beneficiaries are no longer alive to accept the assets, the property could end up being transferred according to the interstate succession process.

Who Receives Assets Through Interstate Succession?

Calculating who receives what assets is a complex process. Some of the following are the most common circumstances in Colorado that interstate succession addresses. In Colorado, if someone passes away without a spouse, but has children, the children inherit all eligible assets. If someone passes away without children, but has a spouse, the spouse inherits all eligible assets. If someone passes away and has both a spouse and descendants with the spouse and the spouse has no other descendants, the spouse inherits all eligible assets. If someone passes away without children or a spouse but is survived by parents, the parents receive all eligible assets. Similarly, if someone passes away, and is survived only by their siblings, the siblings receive all eligible assets.

Speak with a Boulder, Colorado, Estate Planning Attorney Today

Contact us for information about exploring wills, trusts, trustee actions, and other estate planning services. Braverman Law Group is here to help clients with benefits planning, estate planning, and many things in between. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our trusted Boulder estate planning attorneys, give us a call today at (303) 800-1588.

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