When you create an estate plan or draft a will, the documents instruct others about what to do with your property when you die. The executor handling your estate will have to present your will to the probate courts and then use it to administer your estate.
Given how much authority wills and other estate documents can have over your personal property, there is certainly an incentive for unscrupulous people to forge documents or trick someone into signing paperwork without understanding its contents first. Probate laws include rules that help reduce the chances of fraud or coercion impacting someone’s testamentary documents.
Wills are powerful documents that can determine what happens to tens of thousands of dollars of personal property. As you might expect, there are strict witness requirements for such documents to be valid in the Colorado probate courts.
What does Colorado require?
Anyone over the age of 18 and of sound mind can draft a will. Writing out the document in one’s own handwriting can be part of the process of ensuring its authenticity. With such handwritten documents comes the obligation to have witnesses present when someone signs.
Witnesses serve two purposes. They can attest that the person who signed the documents is the one whose name is on the will. They can also validate the mental state of the testator and affirm that they were capable of making decisions about their estate.
Two adult witnesses are necessary to make a will enforceable and valid in the Colorado probate courts. Individuals may also sign the document in the presence of a notary public instead of two private witnesses.
Wills are just the starting point for a good estate plan
Drafting a will that discusses what will happen to your property when you die and names a guardian for your underage children is a good decision. However, there are many other documents that you can add to your estate plan that offer different and equally valuable benefits.
Trusts can help those who need state benefits like Medicaid or who worry about estate taxes after they die. Powers of attorney can help protect you in the event of a medical emergency. Learning more about estate planning documents and what Colorado requires of your estate plan can help you make protecting yourself and your loved ones easier.