Some people in Colorado may intend to execute a will someday, but simply never get around to it. Other people may put off executing an estate plan because they don’t want to think about their own death. Whatever the reason, people in Colorado sometimes die without ever executing a will or trust. When this happens, a person’s estate will be passed on to their heirs through the laws of intestate succession.

Intestate succession is the part of the probate process where the heirs are identified and the estate is distributed. If there is no will stating who is to inherit the estate, the state will determine who these heirs should be. If the decedent leaves behind a surviving spouse but no children or parents, then the spouse will receive the entire estate.

In Colorado, a surviving spouse will receive the first $150,000 of the decedent’s estate in addition to 50% of the balance of the estate if the surviving spouse has children from a previous marriage. The decedent’s children will then receive what is left of the estate in equal portions.

However, if the decedent has a surviving spouse and adult children from a previous marriage, then the surviving spouse will receive the first $100,000 of the estate and the remainder of the estate will be divided equally between the adult children. If the decedent had a child from a previous marriage and that child is a minor, the surviving spouse will receive 50% of the estate and the minor child will receive the other 50%.

While this may seem straightforward at first glance, the laws of intestate succession can be complicated. Because most people have an idea of who they want to inherit their property, they should execute an estate plan during their lifetime.