Colorado Estate Planning Blog

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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