Budgeting Financial Planning Estate Planning Dying Without a Will in Colorado State Laws Dictate How An Estate is Divided By Julie Garber Updated on June 17, 2022 Reviewed by JeFreda R. Brown Reviewed by JeFreda R. Brown Facebook Instagram Twitter JeFreda R. Brown is a financial consultant, Certified Financial Education Instructor, and researcher who has assisted thousands of clients over a more than two-decade career. She is the CEO of Xaris Financial Enterprises and a course facilitator for Cornell University. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by Emily Ernsberger In This Article View All In This Article When the Deceased Is Survived by a Spouse Spouse With Unrelated Children Spouse With Unrelated Adult Children Surviving Spouse and Parents When There's No Surviving Spouse No Spouse, Descendants, or Parents If There Are No Relatives Inheritance From a Colorado Intestate Estate Photo: Fotosearch / GettyImages When a Colorado resident dies without a last will and testament, the intestacy succession laws found in the state's probate code take over. The laws dictate who inherits the deceased's estate. All states have succession laws in their books. Many are similar, but each can vary in subtle ways. The intestate succession in Colorado depends on who is still living when a person passes away. When the Deceased Is Survived by a Spouse When the deceased is survived by only a spouse (no children or parents), the surviving spouse inherits the entire probate estate (in this case, probate is the legal process of dividing up an estate). The same applies when the decedent (person who died) is survived by a spouse and children, but only if all of the children are also the children of the surviving spouse. Spouse With Unrelated Children The surviving spouse inherits the first $225,000 of the probate estate plus 50% of the balance of the estate if the spouse has children of the descendants and descendants from another relationship. The deceased's children would inherit the remainder of the estate per stirpes, a legal term that means each will receive an equal share of that portion of the estate. Spouse With Unrelated Adult Children The surviving spouse's share reduces to $150,000 and 50% of the balance of the estate if she survives the deceased, and the deceased had adult children who were not the spouse's children. The deceased's children would share the balance of the estate per stirpes. Surviving Spouse and Parents The surviving spouse inherits the first $300,000 of the probate estate and 75% of the balance of the estate when the deceased is survived by both a spouse and parents. The parents receive the remaining 25% equally. If there is only one surviving parent, that parent would inherit the remaining 25%. When There's No Surviving Spouse When the deceased is survived by descendants but no spouse, their descendants inherit the entire probate estate per stirpes. Descendants include children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and their offspring. They "descend" from the deceased. When the deceased is survived by a parent or parents but no spouse or descendants, their parents inherit the probate estate in equal shares if both are living. Otherwise, the entire probate estate would go to the only surviving parent. When There's No Spouse, Descendants, or Parents What happens under the Colorado intestacy laws in the rare case that the deceased is not survived by a spouse, any descendants, or parents? That person's siblings and their descendants are next in line. The brothers and sisters would inherit the entire estate per stirpes unless one or more of them is also deceased. In this case, their shares would pass to their children per stirpes. If There Are No Relatives Finally, if the deceased leaves no family members at all, the entire probate estate will escheat (banks are required to turn the funds over to the state) to the State of Colorado. In other words, the estate goes to the state more or less by default. What Will You Inherit From a Colorado Intestate Estate? Even if you determine that you're entitled to an intestate share of your relative's estate according to Colorado's intestacy laws, you still might not inherit anything. If your relative only left non-probate property—assets that pass directly to a survivor by contract, beneficiary, or operation of law—there would be nothing to distribute to any intestate heirs. These assets can include insurance policies, retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, or property held with rights of survivorship. They transfer directly to the deceased's co-owner or named beneficiary without the necessity of probate. If your relative died with debt that exceeded the value of their probate estate, there would be nothing to distribute to heirs. The estate would be insolvent (unable to pay debts), and the creditors would receive everything, leaving nothing for the beneficiaries. NOTE: State laws change frequently, and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice. Key Takeaways When a Colorado resident dies without a last will and testament, the state's intestacy succession laws determine who inherits the deceased's estate.When the deceased is survived by only a spouse (no children or parents), the surviving spouse inherits the entire probate estate.The same applies when the decedent (person who died) is survived by a spouse and children, but only if all of the children are also the children of the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse inherits the first $225,000 plus 50% of the balance of the estate if the spouse has children of the descendants and descendants from another relationship.The surviving spouse inherits the first $300,000 and 75% of the estate's balance when the deceased is survived by both a spouse and parents, who receive the remaining 25% equally. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Colorado General Assembly. "SB22-092 Update Colorado Probate Code." Cumberland Legacy Law. "Who Inherits in Colorado if My Spouse Dies Without A Will?" FindLaw. "Colorado Revised Statutes Title 15. Probate, Trusts, and Fiduciaries § 15-11-103. Share of Heirs Other Than Surviving Spouse and Designated Beneficiary."