Colorado Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spouse doesn't know finances

      Your surviving spouse will need to access money immediately to cover funeral expenses. There may also be hospital bills, and, of course, all of the normal expenses that come with everyday life. So that your spouse won’t have to search high and low trying to figure out where the accounts are located or how they can access money, you need to make sure your loved ones know where to find this information.

      Walk through all of your financial accounts with your spouse so she understands how to withdraw funds as needed. It’s also helpful to leave a few lists in a safe but easily accessible place:

  • A password list for all your online accounts and memberships
  • A list of all your accounts and memberships – both online and offline – along with any necessary instructions
  • A list of your estate planning documents and their location
  • A list of all lawyers, financial planners, accountants and others who worked with you

Read more . . .

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Common Law marriage in Colorado

Colorado has common law marriage, which can cause legal nightmares when an unmarried couple breaks up or one of the partners dies. You should consider signing a Cohabitation Agreement with your significant other if you live together to avoid the inadvertent appearance of marriage. The agreement can spell out the consequences of a break up or the death of a partner, avoiding costly and protracted legal proceedings.

      It will save you some money in the long run, because the Cohabitation Agreement allows the individuals to determine in advance who will keep specific assets and what will happen to assets that have been purchased jointly if they separate or die. Cohabitation Agreements can also help you protect any assets that you may have (e.
Read more . . .

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What is Estate Planning

Professionals tend to throw around terms that are common for their particular industry, but sometimes forget that not everyone uses those terms on a daily basis.  Clarification is often necessary.

        Your estate consists of all the assets you have accumulated during your lifetime, including real estate, bank and brokerage accounts, retirement plans, life insurance, and even your junk.

        Your plan needs to allow you to stay in control of your estate for as long as possible. Your plan needs to remain flexible to allow for changes in the law and changes in your personal desires.
Read more . . .

Friday, April 1, 2016

Digital Assets

What should you do about passwords, usernames and security questions?

        It is important to figure out what needs to be preserved, what can be left to lapse, and who should be able to access these various accounts. There are a number of cloud storage sites where you can store your passwords, and then you only need to give someone the password to access that information. Alternatively, you can leave the password to access your personal information in a safe deposit box or with your attorney. 

        My clients have a binder with forms that provide a means for leaving such information with their will and/or trust. Dealing with digital property is still in its infancy, and technology is ever changing, so there are no perfect solutions.
Read more . . .

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Estate Planning

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the process of accumulating and disposing of an estate to maximize the goals of the estate owner. The various goals of estate planning include, but are not limited to: making sure that the greatest amount possible of a person’s estate passes to that person’s intended loved ones and beneficiaries; paying the least amount possible of taxes on the estate assets; and minimizing or altogether avoiding the extent of the probate process to which that person’s estate might otherwise be exposed.

        In formulating an effective estate plan, it is important to consider: 

  • the size of the client’s prospective estate and what kind of assets (real, personal, monetary) are held in it;
  • who the client’s loved ones and intended beneficiaries are, how old they are, and whether or not any of them have any special needs or disabilities;
  • the type and extent of the potential estate or death taxes to which the client’s estate may be subject; and
  • what the client’s future goals and financial needs may be.

Many people believe that estate planning consists of nothing more than making a simple Will. A properly implemented estate plan can entail much more than that.
Read more . . .

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Trust in a box

Why do I need to pay an attorney when I can buy software for $9.99 to do the same thing?

There are many reasons that the “do-it-yourself” software, forms, or websites are not a good idea. Of course, bottom line, no one will know if you made a mistake in your “do-it-yourself planning” until after you are deceased. And then it’s too late.

The main reason people do a trust-in-a-box is to save money.  Saving money is always a worthy goal. Take a quick inventory of your home. Your big screen TV may have cost more than my estate planning fees. The sales tax and registration fees on that SUV are far more than most estate planning fees. And, what about that expensive one week vacation you took last year? Yet, do you really believe that your children deserve a $9.99 trust-in-a-box?

Estate planning isn’t just about boilerplate legal documents. It’s really about having a support team of advisors that you have come to trust for their experience, expertise and interest in helping you achieve your goals.

It is not advisable to cut corners to save money where it counts the most–with your loved ones.  Folks will spend hours researching a computer system and update it regularly so that they have the latest and greatest system available.  If you go to that kind of trouble for a computer, why would you want to cut corners on your family’s well-being and security?

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.         

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