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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

What Happens if I Don't Have a Will?

Do I need a will?

You do not need a will or any other type of estate planning document if you do not want to have one.  Colorado law already has a plan for you. Dying without a will is sometimes referred to as dying intestate.

If I don’t have a will, what happens?

Your sentimental and financial assets will be distributed to your relatives by a court. It will take time. It will cost money. Sentimental assets will go the highest bidder. Overlooked assets will wind up in the government’s pocket. (Colorado had 700 million dollars in unclaimed assets in March 2015.)

What about my children and grandchildren?

If any heirs are under age 18, a court will hire a trustee to oversee their inheritance at your expense.  When they reach age 18, they will receive their full share with no strings attached and no oversight.

What about my spouse?

Colorado’s plan for you can be a real surprise to your loved ones. For instance, if you are remarried and   have children from a prior marriage, Colorado’s plan may split your assets between your current spouse, ex-spouse and children or leave your children out in the cold depending on the details of what you had, what they have and how much it was worth when you died.

What else do I need to know?

If you die without a will, your bank accounts may be frozen until a court determines how to distribute your money. This court process is called probate. During probate your dependents will be allowed up to $2667 per month to live on. Maybe that is okay. If you were the main breadwinner and there is rent or a mortgage to cover, living within a budget of $2667 per month may be a real hardship.

Who will wrap things up for me?

With a will you direct who will do the legwork to close your accounts and make distributions, AKA, the personal representative. Without a will, a court will require a bond from the person the judge chose to be your personal representative. Bonds cost money and there are situations where the logical person to act as personal representative such as, the spouse or oldest child, was unable to obtain a bond. In those situations, the court may hire a personal representative who never met you at your expense. Maybe it will be someone smart and quick or maybe it will be a paper pusher with an overworked office where your loved ones are just another file…

Failing to plan is planning to fail – Benjamin Franklin

These are just a few of the reasons why you may or may not be comfortable dying without a will. Colorado’s plan may be very different from what you would have wanted or it might be just right. Contact Jamie at 970-879-1572 today to schedule your Legacy Planning Session to learn more. Together we will review Colorado’s plan for you.

Then you decide if you want our help to make changes or if you are comfortable leaving things as is. Either way, if your plan wasn’t built in Colorado or if you haven’t reviewed your plan in the last 3 years, it will be worth your time to do it now.

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