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Are You the Second Wife?

Are you the second wife? A lawyers thoughts on the importance of estate planning if you are a second wife.

But I’m his wife!! an exasperated widow will shake her head at me when she receives a much smaller inheritance than she expected.

I have talked with widows who had assumed that because they were married at the time of their husband’s death that they would automatically inherit all of their husband’s estate, regardless of whether or not he left a will.

This is not true, if your husband had been previously married and has children with his former wife and does not leave a will, Colorado law limits the amount of money you can inherit. If you are in this situation, please talk to your husband about an estate plan. I know that you are busy and you are going to get to it one of these days but I urge you not to put it off. He can write a will leaving you as much of his estate as he wishes, but if he dies without making a will you are limited in the amount of money you can inherit.

Please check the beneficiary on his current life insurance policy. If he forgot to change it and the ex-wife is still listed, she will inherit the life insurance funds. The insurance company is legally required to distribute the funds to the person listed as beneficiary regardless of who he was married to at the time of death.

If you have any questions about this information, please e-mail me at or call me at 720-684-4378.

Posted in Elder Law.