Welcome to the 10th in a series of Probate Horror Stories, courtesy of Brown & Crona, LLC. Last month our topic covered the potential risks of creating a will by yourself. This month we will focus on what could happen if you unintentionally left a child out of your will.
Fictional Situation: Susan
- 40-year-old single mom
- Landed a high-paying job early in her career
- 1 child
- Child’s father not in the picture
- 2 sisters
- Created a will before the birth of her child
When Susan was in her mid-20s, her parents urged her to set up a will. She achieved great success very early on in her career and was able to amass many expensive material possessions. In the legal documents she had drawn up, she left her assets to her sisters in equal shares.
As time went on, the relationship among the sisters began to falter, mostly due to the fact that Susan had achieved so much in so little time. The To Do item of removing her sisters from her will was put on the back-burner as something to take care of later. When Susan became pregnant and had a child, her life became more hectic as she worked hard to balance single parenthood with her demanding career. Updating her will was easily forgotten.
When tragedy struck and Susan passed away unexpectedly, it became apparent very quickly that she had not taken the time to review and update her will. Most importantly to this scenario is that Susan unintentionally forgot to add her child to her will. When the will entered probate, all of her estate was divided among her two sisters – even though they had become estranged over the years.
Luckily, in Colorado, if a child has been accidentally left out of a will, there are statutes which address this specific situation so the child is not completely left out. However, the way the courts divvy up your estate may not be exactly how you want it to be handled. In Susan’s case, the two sisters she did not have good relationships with still ended up receiving a substantial part of her estate.
It is absolutely imperative that you take time to review your will on a regular basis to ensure that your will comports with your wishes based upon your current circumstances. By hiring a professional Denver estate planning lawyer to provide constant reminders of this important step, you will be protecting your family.
Watch for our blog next month for the next installment in our Probate Horror Story Series.