We’ve included some basic information on wills below to assist you with gathering the information you need to properly consider creating a will.
The most common questions asked pertaining to wills include, “What is a will?” and “Do I need a lawyer to create my will?”
According to the Colorado Bar Association, a will is “the most common estate planning document and is used by both wealthy individuals and those of modest means. Like a Revocable Living Trust, a will is a set of instructions directing when, how, to whom, and by whom a decedent’s property should be disposed of and their business affairs wrapped up. In addition, the willmaker may name a guardian for their minor or disabled adult child(ren). “
Additionally, a person can make a will if they are “at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and must know what property they own, who their immediate family members are, and who they want their property to be given to. “
There are several requirements for a will to be considered legal and legitimate. The will must be either typed or handwritten, signed and dated (signature must be witnessed by two uninterested parties) and should be notarized.
We encourage you to work with an attorney when creating a will, as it requires a set of skills and knowledge. This will also help in ensuring issues do not arise when the will must be executed. With a “holographic” will (a will made without a lawyer), if there is a component missing from your will or if it is deemed defective, it can cause much delay, expense and possibly litigation.
Below find a list of quick facts to help you with your will questions:
• You can change a will (known as a “codicil”) or revoke it at any time, as long as you are mentally competent and not inappropriately influenced by another person.
• You should update your will if there is a major change in your life, such as additional property acquired, if you move, or if there is a change in the lives of your devisees.
• You should always have your will reviewed if you move to another state, as the laws may be different in that state.
• In Colorado, if you get divorced after you execute a will, your “ex” (if named in the will) is automatically eliminated as a devisee when the divorce is final. If you get married and do not update your will, your spouse is entitled to the same share that he/she would be if you did not have a will.
• According to Colorado state law, “you can give your property to whomever you wish. However, the law provides protections for surviving spouses who were left out or disinherited in the will, and children of the decedent who were born after the will was executed and no provisions were made for them. A surviving spouse may elect to receive a percentage of the decedent’s estate regardless of what the will says, unless a valid prenuptial agreement says otherwise. Similarly, unless expressly excluded, children born after a decedent’s will is executed may inherit the share they would be entitled to if the decedent died without a will.”
• If a person dies without a will, the laws of Colorado write the will for him/her through statutes that dictate who is entitled to what. This process can be complicated and may require court involvement.
If you have questions about wills, please post them below or contact our staff. We’re always here to help.