Estate Planning Services
Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorney & Estate Planning Denver CO
Many families and individuals think of estate planning as being for the wealthy, older or retired individual. On the contrary, our Denver CO estate planning attorney works with people from all walks of life who have the common goal to take care of those they love or are responsible for in the event of disability or after they have passed away.
Putting plans in place to cope with the possibility of a severe disability or an untimely death is as essential for families with young children as it is for people involved in a second marriage with stepchildren, or immediately following a divorce. It is also critical as people get older to figure out who they want to help take care of their business if they become unable to do so, and who they want to benefit from the monies they have earned and saved over a lifetime of work. Estate planning can be quite complex with numerous potential pitfalls that could result in not having the outcomes you intend.
With estate planning, you protect and preserve what you have worked hard to accumulate, clearly stating what you want to happen, and who you want to take care of things if you are not able to do so yourself. This is especially important for couples who are not legally married. Without the right documents, carefully drafted, numerous legal assumptions come into play that may not provide the outcomes that you are looking for. For example, when a person dies without a will, the person’s assets will be given to heirs as determined by the state of Colorado, which generally doesn’t include the gay/lesbian partner. This can be devastating to those left behind.
These core documents are used in many estate plans, depending on the desired results. Each document is carefully drafted to ensure that they do what they are intended to do and provide the information needed by those you designate to take care of things when you are no longer able to do so.
With a power of attorney, you identify who you want to step into your shoes and make decisions for you. That person is your agent, and may be different people for different things depending on the decisions that need to be made. You might choose one person to make medical decisions for you and another to make financial decisions. There is no crystal ball that determines when you might wake up one day not being able to take care of your business. If you have a power of attorney in place, your agent can step in and take care of things for you. If not, someone will have to go to court and get authority from the court to take action for you. Such court involvement can be expensive and time consuming.
With a will, you identify who you want to give your money and property to after you have died. You also identify who you want to be in charge (called a personal representative) of making sure all of your property is collected, your bills are paid, your last remains are taken care of as you wish, and your money and property is distributed as you have described. Colorado’s probate laws detail this process for your personal representative, heirs, and creditors. In most circumstances, probating an estate takes 6-18 months.
Trusts can also be a good planning option depending on your circumstances and needs. Trusts can be set up to begin when you are alive, after you have passed away, or on the happening of a particular event. Unlike a will, a trust is not generally faced with the same court scrutiny and avoids public exposure. A trust may be particularly helpful if you own real estate in more than one state. There are numerous factors to consider when determining what will work best in any individual situation. I tailor each estate plan so that it fits the needs of the particular individual. It is also a good idea to review and update documents every 5-7 years as circumstances can change dramatically over time and the law in this arena changes constantly.
Call our Denver estate planning lawyer today at 303-562-5973 and I’ll be happy to meet with you for a free complimentary consultation to discuss your needs. After meeting, you will have a better understanding about the need for estate planning and all the advantages it offers.