Traditionally, the cornerstone of an estate plan is a carefully designed will. With a will, you can make provisions for your spouse, descendants, and other family members. You can also provide for non-family beneficiaries and charities, who otherwise would receive nothing from your estate through the default Colorado laws of descent and distribution. A will allows you to choose the person you want to serve as personal representative of your estate. Further, it gives parents of minor children the opportunity to choose their guardian, should the need arise.
It is just as important to realize what a will cannot do. The distribution of some assets is determined by law. For example, property owned jointly with right of survivorship passes automatically to the surviving joint owner, not according to your will. Any provisions regarding the distribution of such property in your will are ineffectual if the joint owner survives. Similarly, a surviving spouse has certain rights under Colorado state law that can't be trumped by the will, unless the couple has an agreement to waive those statutory rights provided to a surviving spouse that would otherwise normally apply in such a situation.