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How Does a Will Become Operative?

People make wills to ensure that their estate (large or small) is passed on to family members, friends, charitable organizations and others they care about deeply. Anyone can create a will and the recipients are often completely unaware they are included in the will. There are some instances, however, when a person will create a will and share the contents with others.

For example, Aunt Sally can inform her grandson that he stands to inherit a lump sum of $10,000 in the future from her. If this gift is included as part of her will, can Aunt Sally’s grandson get access to that cash whenever he wants it?

The answer is no (unless Aunt Sally decides to gift it to him before she passes away). A will only becomes operative upon the death of the creator – in this case, Aunt Sally. However, this process does not magically happen. Upon Aunt Sally’s death, her will must be admitted to the courts so it can go through the probate process, if necessary. (Estates worth less than $66,000 may not need to go through the probate process.) This admission process  is done by the executor of the will. Therefore, it is important that Aunt Sally tells someone where she is keeping her will so it can be easily located.

Safe Places for Wills

Once you have created a will, it is advisable to store it in a safe location:

  • Safe deposit box (make sure someone else has access to this box)
  • File it with the probate courts for a fee
  • Fire-proof, locked box at home (make sure someone else has a key)
  • Estate attorney

If you are faced with the death of a loved one and are unsure how to submit their will to the probate courts, the Denver will lawyers at The Brown Law Firm, LLC can help. Our team is highly experienced at helping people admit will to probate. We can help speed up the probate process and manage disputes if they should arise. We can also help you create a will in Colorado and store it for you. Contact us today at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to arrange an initial consultation to discuss your unique situation.