Many Colorado residents lack a basic will and often pass away without outlining what their final wishes are with regards to the distribution of their estate. However, if the decedent had remarried in their life and did not engage in estate planning, their children might accidentally become disinherited as a result.
According to statistics, about 17% of people remarry when their first marriage comes to an end and the numbers are even higher in older age groups. In 2013, 57% of people in the 55 year old age range and higher remarried. By this age, it is more likely that the individuals are bringing assets into the marriage. They have accumulated real estate, brokerage accounts, insurance policies and retirement savings. This means there is more at stake if someone dies without giving proper thought to who gets what.
If someone dies without a will, their estate is distributed according to the court’s decision. This often turns into a public spectacle with heirs conflicting on what belong to who. The process is often long drawn out and leads to conflicts.
In order to avoid this turmoil, it is helpful to go through one’s assets and estate on a regular basis. For example, who are the beneficiaries on retirement accounts and insurance policies? The beneficiary listed there will supersede any in a will. That means if an ex-spouse is listed, children from a current marriage might not get anything from the beneficiary, or the opposite might be the case if a current spouse is listed without provisions for children from the first marriage. Its also important to understand how one’s ownership of the house determines who gets it after a spouse dies. Some ownership rights automatically grant ownership to the spouse, regardless of the will says.
Having as specific a will as possible in these circumstances is helpful, without any room for conflict. However, it is also important to note that there are other estate planning tools at one’s disposal, such as trusts, that might be better at serving one’s needs.