When You Don’t Have a Last Will and Testament in Colorado: Who Gets What?

Last Will and TestamentWhen the Millenium Trilogy author Steig Larsson died in 2004, he didn’t leave a last will. Since then, there had been an on-going battle between his family and girlfriend Eva Gabrielsson on the legal rights of his fortune and literary properties. The media widely covered this conflict.

In Colorado, dying without a will means your assets will go to your closest relatives, through the “intestate succession” laws. Although the default decision sounds fair and straightforward, the result may not always be what the deceased truly wished. Coming up with a will is easy with an estate planning attorney, but here’s what you should know about ‘who gets what?’ in intestacy in Colorado.

The Spouse’s Share

If you are married and died, your spouse will inherit all of your intestate property, granted you don’t have any living parents, children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.

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If you die without a descendant but with living parents, your spouse will inherit the first $200,000 of your property’s worth plus three-fourths of the remaining balance; the quarter will belong to your parents. If you leave behind descendants and a spouse, your spouse will get the first $150,000 of your intestate property and half of the balance. Your descendants will get the other half.

For Adopted, Unborn, and Foster Children

The law assumes that any child born to your wife during your marriage is your child, and will receive an inheritance. In the case of children born out of wedlock, they may have a share of your estate granted that the court has established that you are their father.

Your legally adopted children will have the same share as your biological children while foster children, as well as stepchildren that you never legally adopted, do not have automatic shares.

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Any unborn child will receive a share while your grandchildren can get a share if their parent, who is your child, died before you do.

Although the “closest relatives” clause in intestacy seems straightforward, certain situations may complicate it. Drafting a last will and testament is the solution to make sure that all your properties will go to the intended person/s.