What is a Will? – Common Issues and Limitations

While a last will and testament is a useful legal document that allows you to dictate how your property and assets will be distributed after your death, there are several common problems with relying solely on a will to manage your estate. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the issues that can arise when using only a will and what you can do to avoid them under Colorado law.

  1. Probate Delays: Probate is the legal process that occurs after a person passes away to validate their will and distribute their property and assets. In Colorado, probate can be a lengthy and costly process, often taking six months to a year (or even longer!) to complete. This can be especially problematic if your loved ones need access to your property or assets to pay for expenses like funeral costs or outstanding debts. Having a will alone does not avoid the probate process, so it’s important to explore other estate planning options like trusts to minimize probate delays.
  2. Lack of Privacy: When a will is submitted to probate court, it becomes part of the public record. This means that anyone can access the document and learn details about your property, assets, and beneficiaries. For some people, this lack of privacy can be concerning. If you’re looking to keep your estate plans private, you may want to consider creating a trust or other estate planning tool that doesn’t require probate.
  3. Potential for Disputes: Wills can be challenged in court if there are concerns about their validity. This can occur if family members or beneficiaries feel that the will was created under duress, coercion, or without the person’s full understanding. In some cases, disputes can result in lengthy court battles that drain the estate’s resources and cause lasting rifts within the family. To minimize the potential for disputes, it’s crucial to ensure that your will is created legally, without any undue influence or coercion, and that your wishes are clearly outlined.
  4. Inflexibility: A will is a static document that cannot be changed after a person passes away. This means that if your circumstances change, such as a new marriage, divorce, or acquisition of new assets, your will may not accurately reflect your wishes. If you don’t update your will, it may cause confusion and disputes among your beneficiaries. To avoid inflexibility issues, it’s important to periodically review and update your estate plans as needed.

While a last will and testament is an important estate planning tool, it’s not without its limitations. Probate delays, lack of privacy, potential for disputes, and inflexibility are all common problems with relying solely on a will to manage your estate. To minimize these issues, it’s best to explore other estate planning options, like trusts, and to periodically review and update your plans as needed. Consult with an attorney who can help you create an estate plan that reflects your unique needs and preferences while avoiding potential problems in the future.

If you have questions regarding estate planning contact Chapman Law, PLLC to discuss your situation.

This blog is intended to provide general information and, therefore, should not be treated as legal advice. You should contact a qualified attorney for questions about legal issues.