Understanding the Validity of a Will

Ensuring that a loved-one’s wishes can be honored by a Will involves ensuring that the Will meets certain requirements and stands the best chance of being affirmed as a valid Will by the Probate Court. Knowing which type of Will to use is the best starting place.

Holographic Will: A handwritten will. While this type of Will can be valid in Colorado if certain conditions are met, it can also present a lot of issues upon filing with the Probate Court. The main issue being whether the Will should be authenticated as a valid Will, and the wishes honored. If it is not found to be valid, then the Court applies Statutory Intestate laws as if no will was written.

Verbal Wills / Noncupative Wills: This is essentially a verbal will that is spoken aloud from the creator to witnesses, and written down immediately by the witnesses. Although verbal wills are recognized by some states in limited circumstances, they are not recognized as a valid Will in Colorado.

Formal Will: This type of Will is typewritten, signed, and observed by witnesses. This format is the most likely to succeed authentication by the Court during the probate process. Each state is governed by its own probate laws, however, in Colorado a valid will should be signed by a person of sound mind, and witnessed by two witnesses over the age of 18 years old.  

Pour Over Will: This is similar to a Formal Will, yet it designed to work in conjunction with an Estate Trust, and “pours over” any remaining assets that have not already been transferred to the Trust. Drafters should be aware that the Pour Over Will must go through the probate Court process just as does a Formal Will.

This is a very brief summary of various types of Wills, when the reality is that each person’s situation is unique, and consulting a law firm is strongly recommended to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are properly documented, and carried out. Please reach out to Behrends Legal with questions regarding Estate Planning needs. (970) 578-9455.