Colorado's intestacy rules are similar to the rules found in other states but don't provide for inheritances by remote relatives, such as distant cousins. Colorado's laws allow inheritances by a birth parent who adopted out the deceased person or any birth children the deceased person put up for adoption, but only to prevent the estate from going to Colorado because of a lack of heirs. State laws set the inheritance rules for the estate of a person who died intestate; however, these rules don't take the financial needs of his heirs into consideration.
Married Without Children
All the property of a childless person who was married when he died goes to his spouse under Colorado intestacy rules unless he has a surviving parent. If he has a living parent, his spouse receives the first $200,000 of the estate, as well as three-fourths of the balance—that is, of the amount that remains after the money is subtracted from the estate's total value. The remaining one-fourth of the estate balance goes to his living parents. If his spouse died before him and he had no children, the entire estate belongs to his surviving parents. If his parents are dead as well, their descendents inherit the estate.
Married With Children
If the deceased person was married when he died and the couple had children, the spouse receives the entire estate. If he had natural or adopted children with a person other than his surviving spouse and the children are adults, those children are entitled to one-half of his estate after his spouse takes her share. The spouse's share is the first $100,000 of the estate's value plus one-half of the remaining balance of the estate. If any of his surviving children from a person other than his spouse are minors when he dies, the spouse doesn't receive the first $100,000 of the estate; the estate is split equally between the spouse and the children. If he was married and had children from that marriage and children from another relationship, a surviving spouse gets the first $150,000 of the estate plus one-half of the total balance, with the rest going to the children. If any of his children died before him, his grandchildren are entitled to their deceased parent's share.
No Spouse or Children
Surviving parents of a person who dies without a spouse or children inherit his entire estate. If both his parents are dead, the estate belongs to the parents' surviving descendents; for example, the siblings of the deceased person. Surviving grandparents may inherit his estate if his parents have no surviving descendents. If both grandparents are dead, their surviving descendents inherit the estate. In cases where the deceased person's parents and grandparents left no surviving descendents, the estate may go to the state of Colorado.
Not all the deceased person's property is subject to Colorado intestacy rules. Money from retirement accounts, such as 401(k) accounts, and insurance plans go to the person the decedent named as the beneficiary on the account or plan paperwork. Property the decedent owned with another person as a joint tenant with survivorship rights—the family home, for example—belongs to the surviving owner. Any property the decedent transferred to a living trust belongs to the trust and isn't subject to intestacy laws. Bank accounts that had another person designated to receive the funds if the account holder died—known as "payable on death" accounts—pass to that designated person.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images