Colorado State Specific Information

Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, and Estate Planning

Official state laws:

  • Colorado Revised Statutes
  • Probate jurisdiction rests with the District Court, except Denver where jurisdiction rests with the Probate Court (Section 13-9-103)
  • Probate laws are primarily under Title 15 and Title 39 Chapter 23.5

Minimum age requirement to:

  • Distribute property by will: 18 (Section 15-11-501)
  • Which minor gets property: 21

Holographic will recognized (Section 15-11-5022(2))

State taxes:

  • Estate tax: Equal to federal credit for state death taxes (Section 39-23.5+)
  • State gift tax:Inheritance tax: No inheritance tax (Section 39-23.5+)
    • No state gift tax (Section 39-23.5+)
    • Anatomical Gift Act (Section 12-34-101)
  • Inheritance tax: No inheritance tax (Section 39-23.5+)

Default rules: How property is distributed if there is no will, i.e. laws of intestate succession:

  • No surviving spouse, but there are surviving children:
    • All of the estate goes to the surviving children split equally among them or to their children in accordance to their per capita share at each generation (Section 15-11-103(1))
  • Surviving spouse and
    • Children of surviving spouse:
      • All of your estate will pass to your spouse
      • Children not of the surviving spouse (for example your children from a previous marriage):
        • $150,000 and one-half (1/2) to surviving spouse, and
        • the other one-half (1/2), split equally among the surviving children or to their children according to their per stirpes share
        • No children and both of your parents of deceased:
          • $200,000 and three-fourth (3/4) of your estate  to your surviving spouse, and
          •  the other one-third (1/3), split equally among the surviving parents
        • No children, but at least one of your parents survives you:
          • All of your estate will pass to your spouse
  • At least one parent survives you, but no surviving spouse or children:
    • All of your estate will pass to your surviving parents equally
  • No spouse, children, or parents:
    • Siblings (brothers and sisters) per capita at each generation. If none, then to grandparents or their children per capita at each generation. If none, then to your closest lineal ancestors or to their children

Who must be named as a beneficiary in your will:

  • Surviving spouse (Section 15-11-302), andChildren, born or adopted (Section 15-11-301)
    • Surviving spouse must be given:
      • One-half (1/2) of your “augmented” estate, but is based on the length of the marriage. Generally, however, “augmented” estates include both the property that passes under the will and any other property that passes by other by will transfers, e.g. terms of a living trust or a joint tenancy arrangement (Section 15-11-201)
  • Children, born or adopted (Section 15-11-301)

Effects of changes in your marital status on your will:

  • You are divorced from the surviving spouse:
    • Revokes will as to divorced surviving spouse (Section 15-11-804)
  • You get married without changing your will that does not provide for your new spouse:
    • Revokes will as to spouse, unless will expressly provides for spouse, but spouse may still be entitled to shares under state intestate law (Section 15-11-301)


  • Minimum number of witnesses required: Two (Section 15-11-502(1)(c)
  • Are witnesses allowed to be beneficiaries?: Yes (Section 15-11-505)
  • Requirements to be a witness, witnesses must:
    • be an adult,
    • not have a claim against your estate on your death,
    • not be entitled to anything in your will, and
    • not a physician, employee of your attending physician, treating healthcare facility, or patient of your treating healthcare facility

Property ownership (Section 38-11-101):

  • Common law state
  • Unless otherwise stated, a tenancy in common is presumed
  • Joint tenancy is recognized by this state
  • Tenancy by the entirety is not recognized in this state

Other types of wills:

  • Self-proving wills recognized: Yes, recognized (Section 15-11-504)
  • Living will: Colorado Declaration as to Medical or Surgical Treatment (Section 15-18-103) requires diagnoses and determination of your terminal condition by two physicians that you will die without life-sustaining procedures and your physician must record and consent to your Declaration in your medical records
  • Durable Power of Attorney: Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (Section 15-14-506), and Durable Power of Attorney (Sections 15-1-1301 to 15-1-1320, 15-14-501 to 15-14-509, and 15-14-601 to 15-14-611)