Colorado Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What do you mean that people fail to plan for incapacity?

        An estimated 85% of all people will become either mentally or physically incapacitated before death. Colorado’s guardianship or conservatorship laws control the legal process for those who become mentally incompetent and don’t have a plan (or have a faulty plan) in place. We all became aware of conservatorship laws when Britney Spears' family used these laws to have Ms. Spears involuntarily committed to a mental institution and her father designated to serve as her conservator in order to manage her and her finances.

        In Colorado, if necessary a court will appoint a guardian to make your medical decisions and a conservator to make decisions on how your assets should be invested, managed and spent. The person the court appoints may not be the same person you would have chosen, but by the time it gets to the court, if you are incapacitated, it will be too late for you to tell the court who you want to serve in those capacities.

        An annual accounting must be filed with the court, by the conservator, detailing your financial affairs. Like Britney Spears’ matter, this is all public record. So your nosey neighbors, relatives and possible predators can learn all they want about your financial affairs - something most of us would consider a significant invasion of privacy.

        To avoid the problems of a guardianship or conservatorship, seek the advice of a competent attorney, as there are several documents you can sign now, while you are competent, to pre-plan for incapacity.         

Sommers Law Group, LLC assists clients throughout Denver, Jefferson County, and Arapahoe County, Colorado.

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