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Purple Rain – Dying without a Will in Colorado

July 28, 2016

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Purple Rain – Dying without a Will in Colorado

July 28, 2016

 

With the recent death of Prince, the general public has been inundated with articles and news stories from the media claiming that Prince died without a Will.  Although it is wise

 

to have a Will in place prior to your death, there are other ways to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries upon your death.  A brief background may be helpful in understanding how your assets pass from you to your desired beneficiaries.  A Will only controls assets that are in your sole name with no designated beneficiary.  For instance, if you own real property with another individual in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, upon your death, your interest in the real property will automatically pass to the surviving joint tenant.  If, for example, you have a life insurance policy which names designated beneficiaries, the proceeds will be payable directly to the designated beneficiaries upon your death.  Upon your death, assets that are in your sole name with no designated beneficiary must be administered in a Probate Court proceeding and are distributed pursuant to the terms of your Will[1].  These assets are regularly called “probate” assets.  In the event you do not have a Will, you are deemed to have died intestate (without a Will) and your probate assets will be distributed pursuant the Colorado intestacy statutes (C.R.S. § 15-11-101, et seq.).  The following are a few scenarios and the results under the Colorado intestacy statutes:

 

 

Fact Pattern 1

Bob is married to Jane. 

•They do not have any children together but Bob has one child from a previous union, Billy. 

•Upon Bob’s death, he has $600,000 in assets in his sole name with no designated beneficiary.

•Bob has no Will.

•Pursuant to C.R.S. § 15-11-102, Jane would be entitled to $375,000.

•Pursuant to C.R.S. § 15-11-103, Billy would be entitled to $225,000.

[1] There are instances when a Probate Court proceeding is not needed based on the type of assets and value of same.  However, this is outside the scope of this discussion. 

 

Fact Pattern 2

 

•Bob is married to Jane. 

•They do not have any children.

•Bob’s dad passed away years before Bob did but Bob’s mom, Alice, is alive.

•Upon Bob’s death, he has $600,000 in assets in his sole name with no designated beneficiary.

•Bob has no Will.

•Pursuant to C.R.S. § 15-11-102, Jane would be entitled to $525,000.

•Pursuant to C.R.S. § 15-11-103, Alice would be entitled to $75,000.

 

Fact Pattern 3

 

•Bob is not married.

•Bob does not have any children (and he doesn’t have any descendants).

•Bob’s parents are both deceased (and all of his ancestors are deceased).

•Bob has 3 siblings:  Mary, Michael and Max

•Bob has no Will.

•Pursuant to C.R.S. § 15-11-103, Mary would be entitled to $200,000.

•Pursuant to C.R.S. § 15-11-103, Michael would be entitled to $200,000.

•Pursuant to C.R.S. § 15-11-103, Max would be entitled to $200,000.

 

1 There are instances when a Probate Court proceeding is not needed based on the type of assets and value of same.  However, this is outside the scope of this discussion

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