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Estate Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:

Who needs an estate plan?

A:

Everyone! It is a common misconception that only retirement age folks or very wealthy people need an estate plan. Estate planning covers many more areas than simply where your money and belongings will go after you pass away. A proper estate plan will also set a plan for if you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for yourself.

Q:

What is included in an estate plan?

A:

We will typically plan your estate around either a trust or a will depending on your situation, needs, assets, and wishes. Included with your trust or will is a medical durable power of attorney, durable financial power of attorney, living will (aka: advanced directive), and other documents if your case calls for them.

Q:

What is a medical durable power of attorney?

A:

This is a document that grants power to someone you trust (in many cases a spouse or child) to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them yourself due to incapacitation.

Q:

What is durable financial power of attorney?

A:

Much like the medical durable power of attorney, this power of attorney grants financial power to someone you trust in case of your incapacity. This power will allow that “agent” that you choose to pay your bills and manage other financial assets as broadly as you allow in the document.

Q:

What is a living will/advanced directive?

A:

A living will or advanced directive provide guidelines for hospitals, doctors, nurses, and your medical agent on what to do in case of your incapacitation. Such guidelines may include how long you wish to stay on artificial nutrition, if you want other life sustaining measures, or if you want to gift your organs in case of your death.

Q:

How often should I update my estate plan?

A:

This varies from person to person. Typically, it is a good idea to update your plan after big life changes. These may include marriage, divorce, having a child, a child passing away, coming into an inheritance, a significant raise, a change in laws (especially tax laws), if you acquire new real estate, or if you change your mind about your current plan. Since each person’s situation is different, it is always a good idea to consult an experienced attorney.

Q:

But won’t my assets just go to my kids? If that is what I want, why do I need an estate plan?

A:

If you pass without an estate plan, the current Colorado laws will dictate where your assets go. These laws can change and may not reflect your wishes. Something else to consider is the possibility that you pass away, and your spouse remarries and then passes away before their new spouse does. In this situation, your assets could possibly end up in the hands of the second spouse. This is just one example of many where a proper estate plan can protect your interests.

Q:

Is a will or a trust better?

A:

This depends on the situation. More complicated estates typically call for trusts, but it is not this simple always. An experienced attorney can give you your options and help guide you to the best choice.