The legal term of intestate means to die without having written a valid last will and testament. If you die intestate in Colorado, your closest living relatives will receive the assets you personally owned as outlined in intestate succession laws. These decisions are based on your home life when you die – whether or not you are married, have children, have living parents, etc.
There are a number of pitfalls that can occur in these situations:
- Your relatives will be identified and your assets divided among them, regardless of the relationship you may or may not have had with those individuals while you were living. (You may not want your deadbeat son to get any of your property.)
- The guardianship of your dependent children may be decided by the courts. While the courts will try to identify the best people to raise your children, these may not be the individuals you would have chosen. (You may not agree with the parenting style of your sister.)
- Any children living with you that you have not legally adopted may not receive part of your estate.
- Your children may inherit large amounts of your estate that they are not mentally ready to handle, leading to a squandering of their inheritance.
- The estate may be hit hard with estate taxes, reducing the overall value of the inheritances.
- If any of the surviving relatives feel cheated by the court rulings, this can lead to litigation and family feuds that last for years.
Certain assets will not be affected by intestate succession laws – assets that you specifically left to beneficiaries or those that are co-owned with another person such as life insurance, retirement accounts, real estate/property, etc.
Regardless of how much you own, you probably don’t want the distribution of your estate and potentially the care of your children left to the discretion of strangers (a judge). It’s worth spending the time to get a will created for peace of mind; you can always alter your will in the future if your life situation changes. The Denver estate planning lawyers at Brown & Crona, LLC, can help you draft a simple or complicated will. Contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to meet with our experts.