When you have a will, you are prepared for the unexpected and your loved ones will be taken care of. You decide:
- Who will receive your assets and how;
- Who will be the guardian of minor or disabled adult children; and
- Who will administer your estate
Decide for yourself what will happen with your assets and how. A will is what implements your intent. For those who pass without a will, the law of intestate succession will dictate what happens with your assets. Also, a Court, rather than you, may decide who will supervise the disposition of assets and care for minor children. You know best how you would like to have these matters handled.You Decide
In your will, you choose people whom you trust to handle important matters for you such as a Personal Representative and Guardian. Your Personal Representative administers your estate and takes charge of implementing your decisions. One important reason to have a will is to decide who this important person will be. Your Personal Representative should be someone you trust to act in your best interests. If you do not have a will, the Court will decide on a Personal Representative for you and it may not be who you would have selected. Also in a will, you can choose a Guardian to care for your minor or adult disabled children. If you do not have a will, then the Court will decide. A court-selected guardian may not be the one that you would have selected.Statutory Requirements
In order to execute a will in Colorado, the statutory requirements are that the maker of the will be at least 18 and of sound mind. Sound mind requires sufficient mental capacity to understand the will provisions being entered into and the absence of undue influence. The will must be signed and entered into voluntarily.
There are four statutory requirements for the will itself in Colorado. The will must be:
- In writing
- Signed by the maker
- Signed by at least two witnesses
The best way to execute a will is with a self-proving affidavit because it minimizes the potential that a witness will have to testify in the probate process to validate the will. With a self-proving affidavit, the maker and witnesses all sign together in the presence of a notary who administers an oath or affirmation in an “execution ceremony” wherein the maker verbally attests to his or her age, soundness of mind and voluntary execution of the will.Beneficiary Designations
It is important to be aware that not all assets pass through a will and to plan accordingly. Assets that have designated payable on death beneficiaries, such as life insurance and securities pass through such instruments and not through a will. It is a good idea when preparing a will to take the opportunity to review your designated beneficiary documents and to ensure that your will and designated beneficiaries are compatible to make implementation as seamless as possible.Probate
Upon death a will is probated through the court and the court may provide some supervision if necessary over the distribution of your assets to ensure that your intent is met. Probate also occurs when a person passes “intestate” (without a will). Fortunately, probate in Colorado is simpler and less expensive than in many other states. There is a small estate probate exception.
If you have any questions about your future planning, please do not hesitate to contact me for a free, no-obligation initial consultation. You can call 303-210-4204, or use the online contact form.