A Colorado Last Will and Testament (“Colorado Will”) is part of the estate plan that addresses three primary matters. First, for assets titled in one’s name, it controls where those assets are to be transferred after one’s passing. Second, it designates who will handle the administration of one’s estate. In Colorado, that individual is referred to as the Personal Representative. Finally, if one has minor or special needs children, Colorado Wills can designate their legal guardian and/or conservator.
It is important to note that a Colorado Will is not a private document. Within 10 days after one’s passing, Colorado law requires Colorado Wills to be “lodged” in the county district court where the individual lived. Upon opening a probate proceeding in court, it becomes a matter of public record.
Who Can Establish a Colorado Will
Any individual who is eighteen years and older, understands his or her assets and is not unduly influenced by another may establish a Colorado Will.
Who Can Serve as Personal Representative
Any competent adult who is twenty-one years and older may serve as Personal Representative.
How Many Personal Representatives May Serve at the Same Time
One or more Personal Representatives may serve at any time. Two or more Personal Representatives are referred to as co-Personal Representatives. You may have as many co-Personal Representatives as you believe are necessary. It is important to understand that the more Personal Representatives serving at the same time requires agreement before anything can proceed.
What Is a Guardian
A Guardian is one who handles the non-financial affairs of a minor or a special needs child. Without designating who will take care of one’s minor child or special needs child, a court proceeding called a Guardianship will be required to appoint a Guardian over one’s minor child or special needs child.
Who Can Serve as a Guardian
Any competent adult who is twenty-one years old and older may serve as a Guardian.
What Is a Conservator
A Conservator is one who handles the financial affairs for a minor or a special needs child. Without designating who can serve as a Conservator, a court proceeding called a Conservatorship will be required to appoint a Conservator over one’s minor child or special needs child.
Who Can Serve as a Conservator
Any competent adult who is twenty-one years old and older may serve as a Conservator.
When Does a Colorado Will Take Effect
Colorado Wills becomes valid once it is properly executed and it takes effect upon one’s passing.
When Does a Colorado Will Expire
A Colorado Will does not expire.
How Is a Colorado Will Properly Executed
For a typewritten Colorado Will, Colorado law requires two witnesses, at a bare minimum. It is advisable to make the document “self-proving” by having the Testator or Testatrix and the two witnesses to sign in the presence of a notary public. The benefit of have a self-proving Last Will and Testament is that the two witnesses do not have to be brought before a court to help establish the legitimacy of the Colorado Will.
Can a Colorado Will Be Changed or Revoked
A Colorado Will is a revocable document that can be changed or revoked at any time. A Colorado Will can be changed in one of two ways. The first way to change a Colorado Will is to prepare a Codicil, which involves creating a new document that consists of the changes one makes to the original document. It is important to note that one must execute the Codicil with the same formalities as a Colorado Will and to then retain both the original Colorado Will and every Codicil made thereto. With today being a word processing world, the second way is to revoke the prior Colorado Will and execute a whole new document.
It is important to remember that if one revokes his or her Colorado Will and fails to execute a new one, then Colorado law determines who receives one’s assets upon their passing.
What Does a Colorado Will Not Cover
A Colorado Will does not protect your privacy as it is a public document once one passes away. It also does not control assets that pass outside one’s estate. Examples include jointly titled assets like real property and bank accounts. It also does not cover contracts that are not payable to one’s estate. Examples include life insurance, annuities, retirement plans and employment death benefits.
What Happens When One Dies Without a Colorado Will
When one dies “intestate” (without a Will), Colorado law determines who is entitled to receive your property.
Where Should I Put My Colorado Will After It Is Executed
One should put their Last Will and Testament in a safe place. Many people chose to put their CO Will in a safe deposit box. Within 10 days of one’s passing, Colorado law requires a decedent’s CO Will to be “lodged” with the district court in the county in which the decedent lived. Accordingly, it is important that whoever is the designated Personal Representative knows where the Last Will and Testament is located so they can comply with Colorado law.