In short, no. People who die without a will are said to have died “intestate.” Colorado, and all other states, have enacted statutes that control the disposition of an intestate estate. Those statutes lay out who inherits the intestate estate and in what portions.
In Colorado, a decedent’s surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate if each spouse’s surviving descendants are the surviving descendants of the other spouse. In cases where one or both spouses have descendants who are not descendants of the other, the amount the surviving spouse would inherit is reduced but still represents a sizable portion of most estates.
If a decedent does not have a surviving spouse or the surviving spouse is not entitled to the entire intestate estate, the decedent’s descendants will inherit the remainder. Furthermore, even if a person dies without a spouse and descendants, the law will look next to the deceased’s parents and their descendants, as well as to the deceased’s and their descendants’ grandparents.
Only if there are no survivors in any of those classes would the intestate estate pass to the state of Colorado as unclaimed property. In Colorado, in particular, if after 21 years, no one has claimed that property, it will become the state’s property and be transferred to the public school fund.
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