While it is generally helpful and thoughtful for people to establish a last will and testament, not having one is not necessarily tragic. If a person dies without a will, or “intestate,” their property is distributed per statute to spouses or children or parents or siblings.
But if a person has property or an estate of any value, having a carefully written will can make property distribution much easier for those who are left behind. Getting a form will off the internet will not provide you with information specific to Colorado or your personal situation.
Here are key factors to understand in regards to writing a will:
The most important reason to have a Will, if a person/couple have underage children, is to designate a guardian for the children should both parents pass. Designating a guardian can avoid unnecessary legal turmoil at a time when children are already devastated at the loss of parents.
If there is no Will, the estate transfers to spouse unless the deceased had children not with current spouse, and then there is a proportional division of estate. If no spouse but children, the estate goes proportionally to children. If no children, then estate goes to parents or to parents’ descendants (i.e. siblings).
There is no estate tax in Colorado, so unless a person owns property in a state where there is estate tax, their estate will not be taxed if under the federal limit for estate taxes. There is therefore no reason to “protect” your estate from probate by setting up a living trust, as probate fees are relatively minor.
Do not put wishes regarding end-of-life care or funeral wishes into a will, which is likely to not be reviewed until the funeral is well over. Put those items into a living will, Five Wishes document, power of attorney or—at the very least—discuss with loved ones.
Insurance policies and bank or investment accounts with a payable-on-death (POD) designation will not be part of your estate unless you designate your estate to be the beneficiary. If individuals are designated as beneficiaries, that account will pass directly to those beneficiaries and not be part of your estate.
Make sure your Will is either lodged with the court or is in a place easily and quickly accessible and known to family or friends, which is generally NOT in a safety deposit box unless your survivor(s) have keys and access to the box.
Contact me for a free consultation.