Estate Planning

Your decision to create your estate plan may be the best and most lasting gift you give to those you love. Creating your estate plan is your chance to prevent conflict and misunderstandings among those who love you. Documenting your plan allows you to help ensure they remain close at a time when they may need each other more than ever. To prepare for our meeting it is important for you to you consider the following.

What is your response in each of the following areas?

1. Who do you want to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself?
2. Who do you trust to take care of your financial commitments if you are temporarily unable to keep those commitments?
3. Do you know who you want to be the guardian of your minor children if you are no longer around and they have to live with someone else?
4. If you are responsible for someone with special needs, what is your plan for their continued care in terms of what happens to that person when something happens to you?
5. Who do you want to make the final decisions about your end of life care?
6. What type of financial legacy do you want to leave for your children and grandchildren?
7. What type of financial legacy do you want to leave for the world?
8. Are you prepared for the costs of long term care?
9. If you are a veteran, do you know what military benefits you and your family may have available?

Most of us have very strong opinions about almost everything in life. Creating a comprehensive estate plan is your opportunity to express your opinions in one of the most important areas of your life. Your estate plan forms the foundation of a plan that meet your goals. Creating your plan ensures your advance financial and medical directives are in-place before you need them. Whether you decide to use more complex planning options, including Revocable Living Trust or Irrevocable Trust, the foundational estate planning documents include:

1. Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters
2. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
3. Declaration as to Medical or Surgical Treatment (Living Will)
4. Will with or without testamentary trust
5. Property Memorandum for disposition of specific personal property
6. Final Disposition Preferences (Organ Donation & Last Remains)

Probate, Conservatorships & Guardianships

Probate is the process of making sure that after someone passes away everything is completed according to their estate plan. In Colorado, the probate process is relatively straight forward and inexpensive when there is agreement among families and others involved.

When someone passes away and does not have estate documents appointing a specific individual to serve as Personal Representative there may be more than one individual eligible to serve in that position. If there is agreement among those eligible to serve, one person may be nominated to serve as the Personal Representative. Without an agreement, the Probate Court may make the decision for the family.

When there are estate documents appointing a specific person to serve as Personal Representative, the Probate Court will generally approve that person’s appointment. In either case, the Probate Court will document the decision and provide Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary to acknowledge the authority of the Personal Representative to take legal actions on behalf of the estate.

When our health and circumstances change we may no longer be able to provide for ourselves and make the decisions that are in our best interest. When that happens we may need a Conservator and Guardian to provide the best care for you and protect your financial interest. These appointments require Probate Court approval.

To help ensure your wishes are considered you may choose to identify the individual you want to serve as Conservator and Guardian, as part of your comprehensive estate plan. Identifying your preferences in your financial and medical powers of attorney helps the Probate Court make the best possible decision given the difficult circumstance. Feel free to contact us for help in identifying and achieving your estate planning goals