Shanann Watts Had No Will When She Was Killed. Could Her Husband Inherit Her Estate?
Shanann Watts, the pregnant Colorado mom killed in August along with her two young daughters, died without a will — possibly setting the stage for a battle over what she left behind.
In paperwork filed Tuesday in Weld County probate court, Watts’ family indicated that the 34-year-old had not made official arrangements for her estate after her death, PEOPLE confirms.
The development was first reported by HLN’s Crime & Justice with Ashleigh Banfield.
In the paperwork, Watts’ father, Frank Rzucek, states that she died not leave a will. He is seeking power of attorney to help manage her estate.
Under the section where Rzucek listed other relatives, he indicated that Watts had no living descendants — but she is survived by her husband of nearly six years, 33-year-old Chris Watts, who allegedly murdered her and their kids.
According to the court records, Chris was served a copy of the probate petition. He remains behind bars in the Weld County Jail.
Last week, Rzucek and his family arrived at the Watts home in Frederick with a moving truck and removed several sentimental and personal items, including photo albums and children’s toys.
According to Colorado state probate code, if an adult dies without a last will and testament, there is a standard succession of inheritance:
If the decedent was married, the estate generally goes to the spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, the estate goes to the children. If there is no surviving spouse or children, the estate goes to the decedent’s parents.
It is unclear if Shanann’s family plans to move to exclude her husband from probate proceedings so that he does not inherit the estate of his alleged victim. A call to their attorney was not immediately returned on Wednesday.
According to county records, the couple’s $400,000 home is still listed as belonging to Chris. He was arrested on Aug. 15 and charged with three counts of first-degree murder, among other crimes, in the deaths of Shanann and kids Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
Shanann and her daughters were reported missing on Aug. 13. Not long after Chris was taken into custody two days later, authorities announced their bodies were found on the property of his former employer Anadarko Petroleum.
Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant with a son to be named Nico. Anadarko fired Chris the same day as his arrest.
RELATED VIDEO: Suspected Family Murderer Chris Watts Doesn’t Want His Jail Visitors Revealed
In an arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE, investigators said they discovered Chris’ affair with an unnamed co-worker, which he initially denied. The affidavit also alleges that he confessed to killing Shanann.
But Chris allegedly told police that he only strangled his wife after watching her kill Celeste when he told her that he wanted to separate.
Shanann’s family has been outspoken in their criticism of Chris. Her brother, Frankie Rzucek, previously lashed out at Chris — calling him a “heartless psychopath” and saying that he “stole my whole world.”
In a later post on Facebook, Frankie wrote: “I let my feelings and love for my family get the best of me on my post last night about that evil man. But I will never delete or regret it. …
“I’ve never been so mad, sad, enraged, hurt, heartbroken lost, and shocked in all my life. So forgive me for how I went about it.”
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Chris has not yet entered a plea and is due to return to court in November.
His lawyer did not respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment but, according to a statement from the state’s public defender’s office, their attorneys are barred from discussing ongoing criminal cases.