Q: Is money in a deceased parent's estate required by law to be split evenly among the living children (heirs)of the parent
My deceased mother's estate, which is represented by my younger sister, might be awarded a settlement by a car insurance company for pain and suffering she incurred from a car accident 7 months before her death. I don't trust that my younger sister will split the award evenly among us four children. Does Colorado law require that any money in an estate be split evenly among the heirs?
A: Your question above may not have all the facts necessary to accurately answer your question.
Assuming that your mom did not have a will, trust, or other instrument to dispose of her assets (she died "intestate"). Assuming that the settlement was not directed by your mom to a very specific account before her death (an account that might have a POD or TOD beneficiary named and thus might possibly avoid Colorado's intestacy laws).
The distribution of your mom's intestate estate (whatever that may include), would be determined by Colorado's intestacy laws, some of which begin at Section 15-11-101 here on Justia at the following link: https://law.justia.com/codes/colorado/2017/title-15/colorado-probate-code/article-11/part-1/subpart-1/section-15-11-101/. If you'd prefer a PDF, you can read starting on Page 118 of the following PDF document: https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/olls/crs2016-title-15.pdf.
You would want to especially read (and share with your sister who is serving as the personal representative) the sections that set forth the order of priority of heirs. The exact answer depends, for example, on whether your mom had a spouse (even a common law spouse) or a recorded designated beneficiary agreement. Assuming there is no spouse or recorded designated beneficiary agreement, then your answer is probably in Section 15-11-103(2) in which your mom's descendants share the estate per capita at each generation.
You would also want to be aware that the estate may need to be used for other liabilities/expenses incurred by your mom as well as the expenses of the estate itself. Those expenses might even include wages to your younger sister for serving as the personal representative.
I'm sorry for your loss, and I hate to see this type of potential fighting among siblings that might have been avoided with effective estate planning.
Best of luck to you,
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