Colorado Last Will and Testament Law

Wills and Estates – Last Will and Testament Law – Colorado

Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law of wills in Colorado, but does contain basic and other information. This summary does not include a discussion of hand written wills.

Who may make a will: An individual eighteen or more years of age who is of sound mind may make a will.  15-11-501.

Execution and witnesses: A will shall be:

(a) In writing;
(b) Signed by the testator.
(c) Signed by at least two witnesses in the presence of the testator or after the testator’s death.  Signing should be within a reasonable time after witnessing the testator signing if it is after the testator’s death.  With effect from July 01, 2010, signing by two witnesses may not be required if the will was acknowledged by the testator before a notary public or other individual authorized by law to take acknowledgments.  15-11-502.

Writings intended as wills: Although a writing or document was not executed in compliance with Section 15-11-502, the will is treated as if it had been executed in compliance with Section 15-11-502 if the proponent of the will establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended the will to constitute the decedent’s will.  15-11-503.

Self-proved will: A will may be simultaneously executed, attested, and made self-proved by acknowledgment thereof by the testator and affidavits of the witnesses, each made before an officer authorized to administer oaths under the laws of the state in which execution occurs and evidenced by the officer’s certificate, under official seal. Forms of self proving affidavits are provided under this Section.  15-11-504.

Who may witness: An individual generally competent to be a witness may act as a witness to a will.  The signing of a will by an interested witness does not invalidate the will or any provision of it.  15-11-505.

Choice of law as to execution: A written will is valid if executed in compliance with Colorado law, or if its execution complies with the law at the time of execution of the place where the will is executed, or of the law of the place where, at the time of execution or at the time of death, the testator is domiciled.  15-11-506.

Revocation of a Will: A will or any part thereof is revoked:

(a) By executing a subsequent will that revokes the previous will or part expressly or by inconsistency; or
(b) Burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating, or destroying the will or any part of it by the testator with the intent and for the purpose of revoking the will or part of it or if another individual performed the act in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction.  15-11-507.

Revival of revoked will: If a subsequent will that wholly/partially revoked a previous will is thereafter revoked by a revocatory act, the previous will remains revoked wholly/partially unless it is revived.  The previous will is revived if it is evident from the circumstances of the revocation of the subsequent will or from the testator’s contemporary or subsequent declarations that the testator intended the previous will to take effect as executed.  15-11-509.

Incorporation by reference: A writing in existence when a will is executed may be incorporated by reference if the language of the will manifests this intent and describes the writing sufficiently to permit its identification. 15-11-510.

Separate writing or memorandum identifying devise of certain types of tangible personal property: A will may refer to a written statement or list to dispose of items of tangible personal property not otherwise specifically disposed of by the will, other than money. To be admissible under this section as evidence of the intended disposition, the writing shall be either in the handwriting of the testator or be signed by the testator and shall describe the items and the devisees with reasonable certainty. The writing may be referred to as one to be in existence at the time of the testator’s death; it may be prepared before or after the execution of the will; it may be altered by the testator after its preparation; and it may be a writing that has no significance apart from its effect on the dispositions made by the will. 15-11-513.

Contracts concerning succession: A contract to make a will or devise, or not to revoke a will or devise, or to die intestate, if executed after July 1, 1995, may be established only by (i) provisions of a will stating material provisions of the contract, (ii) an express reference in a will to a contract and extrinsic evidence proving the terms of the contract, or (iii) a writing signed by the decedent evidencing the contract. The execution of a joint will or mutual wills does not create a presumption of a contract not to revoke the will or wills.  15-11-514.

Penalty clause for contest: A provision in a will purporting to penalize an interested person for contesting the will or instituting other proceedings relating to the estate is unenforceable if probable cause exists for instituting proceedings. 15-11-517.

Deposit of will with court in testator’s lifetime: A will may be deposited by the testator or the testator’s agent with any court for safekeeping, under rules of the court. The will shall be sealed and kept confidential. During the testator’s lifetime, a deposited will shall be delivered only to the testator or to a person authorized in writing signed by the testator to receive the will. A conservator may be allowed to examine a deposited will of a protected testator under procedures designed to maintain the confidential character of the document to the extent possible and to ensure that it will be resealed and kept on deposit after the examination. 15-11-515.

Duty of custodian of will; lodging of will after death; transfer of lodged will; liability:

(1) Within ten days after a testator’s death or as soon thereafter as the death becomes known to the custodian of an instrument purporting to be the testator’s will, the custodian shall deliver the will to the court having probate jurisdiction in the Colorado county where the decedent resided or was domiciled at death for lodging in the records of such court. If the decedent was not a Colorado resident or domiciliary, the custodian shall deliver the will to the court having probate jurisdiction where the decedent was a resident or domiciliary at death, if known to the custodian, but if such residence or domicile is not known, to the court having probate jurisdiction in any Colorado county where property of the decedent was located at death. If the domicile, residence, and location of property are unknown to the custodian, or if the court having probate jurisdiction outside of Colorado refuses to accept delivery of the will, the custodian shall deliver the will to the court having probate jurisdiction in the Colorado county where the will was located. Upon being informed of the testator’s death, a court holding a deposited will shall lodge the will in its records.
(2) Upon the filing of a petition or application showing appropriate venue to be in another state or in another Colorado county, the court shall order the lodged will transferred to the court having probate jurisdiction in that state or county. Any person who willfully fails to deliver an instrument purporting to be a will is liable to any person aggrieved for the damages that may be sustained by the failure.
(3) Any person who willfully refuses or fails to deliver an instrument purporting to be a will after being ordered by the court in a proceeding brought for the purpose of compelling delivery is subject to penalty for contempt of court. 15-11-516.

Inside Colorado Last Will and Testament Law