Is a Will Necessary?

“Is a Will really necessary?  I have everything in joint tenancy with my spouse so I really don’t think I need a Will.”

This is a common yet misguided thought among many individuals.  Yes, it is necessary to have a Will.  In this day of fast paced travel who knows if both you and your spouse will die in an accident.  Do you really want the legislators to designate where your assets go and who will wind up the affairs of your estate?  In Colorado, if you die without a Will the intestacy laws direct how your assets will be distributed and this may not be what you wanted.

So, what really is a Will and what can it really do?  A Will is a legal document that directs how your assets will be disposed of at your death.  Your property, including real estate, bank accounts, stocks and bonds and personal property, etc., can be given away to anyone you choose, with certain exceptions, after all debts are paid.  It also allows you to choose who will be your Personal Representative (the person who carries out your wishes).

To insure a Will is valid, there are certain requirements that must be followed.  You must be at least 18 years of age, you must know who your family members are, you must know the property you own and you must know the effects of your Will.  Moreover, you must be the one wanting to make the Will and not because someone else is forcing you.  It must be signed and dated and two (2) disinterested people must witness your signing of your Will.  Colorado recognizes not only typed Wills, but also hand written Wills, known as Holographic Wills.  But be careful, if you don’t follow the rules exactly for your typed or hand written Will, that Will may be considered invalid.

To have your wishes known and insure that your property goes to whom you want, a Will is a very powerful and imperative tool.  And remember, you should review your Wills every four (4) years to make sure your property that you worked your whole life for is disposed of as you have directed.

Editor’s Note:  This article was submitted by Jolene L. DeVries, Attorney at Law, Cañon City, Colorado.  Ms. DeVries can be reached at 719-275-4424 or by e-mail at info@jldevrieslaw.com.