Many adults do not have a will or other estate documents in place, which may not be surprising. Thinking about one’s own mortality can be stressful and many people seek to avoid it. However, a will can be a powerful tool. A will sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children. If you die without a will your wishes may not be followed. Having a will can make things easier for your loved ones after you die and can save them time, money and energy.
A trust is created when a person (settlor) gives property to another person (trustee) to hold for the benefit of a third person (beneficiary). There are many types of trusts used in estate planning. Julie can work with you to determine whether the inclusion of a trust or trusts in your estate plan is advisable to accomplish your goals.
A comprehensive estate plan will coordinate the disposition of all of your property. In most instances this requires more than just the preparation of a valid will because frequently not all of your assets will transfer under your will. Many assets are transferred outside of your probate estate without regard to the terms of your will. Bank accounts may be designated “P.O.D.” (payable on death) to a specified beneficiary. Similarly, investment accounts may include a “T.O.D.” (transfer on death) direction. Life insurance policies and retirement accounts provide for named beneficiaries. Assets owned jointly with rights of survivorship by two or more individuals will automatically be owned by the surviving individual(s) at the death of one owner.
An effective estate plan will ensure that all of your assets are distributed according to your wishes. The process can be complicated. Julie can guide you through the process and help you update your beneficiary designations to accurately reflect your intentions.
There are a number of strategies to protect your assets during your lifetime. In addition, a well-planned estate plan, typically using trusts, can allow your beneficiaries to receive certain assets while protecting assets from creditors or in the event of divorce.
Your financial power of attorney grants an agent of your choice the power to act on your behalf. The powers granted by a financial power of attorney can be limited or very broad. A financial power of attorney is critical to have in place in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions and handle your affairs yourself. If you are incapacitated without a financial power of attorney, your loved ones may need to spend time and money to obtain a formal court conservatorship.
A healthcare power of attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust to make healthcare decisions when you are unable to do so.
In Colorado, you may execute a "Declaration as to Medical or Surgical Treatment", commonly referred to as a "Living Will". In your Living Will you can state whether you would like life-sustaining procedures administered or withdrawn in the event that you have a terminal condition and are unconscious or incapacitated or if you are in a persistent vegetative state. Regardless of your decision to accept or reject life-sustaining treatment, medical professionals will continue to provide all necessary treatment to alleviate pain and suffering.
A personal property memorandum is a document separate from your will that allows you to make gifts of your tangible personal property including things like jewelry, art and furniture. but not money or real estate. Your personal property memorandum does not need to be witnessed or notarized, so you can make changes to it at any time. A personal property memorandum can help avoid disputes among loved ones as to how to divide up your personal belongings after you pass.
In Colorado, the Disposition of Last Remains Act empowers individuals to make their wishes for arrangements after death known to their loved ones. In the Declaration of Disposition of Last Remains document, you can declare your preferences for burial, cremation or specific ceremony instructions and you can name whom you would like to be in charge of ceremonial arrangements. Like other estate planning documents, the Disposition of Last Remains can make things easier for your loved ones grieving after you pass by making your wishes clear.
When a person dies, his or her possessions – real estate, money, stocks, personal belongings, etc. need to be collected, managed and distributed. Estate administration refers to the process of collecting and managing the estate, paying any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property to the heirs of the estate or beneficiaries designated by will or trust. The heirs of an estate in Colorado are determined by will, and if there isn’t a will, by the intestacy (which means dying without a will) laws of the state of Colorado.
Upon the loss of a loved one, Julie can guide you through the estate and trust administration process, including determining if probate is necessary, as well as gathering assets, paying the decedent’s debts and distributing the remaining assets.
"Despite a lot of tension among relatives following my mother's death, Julie was able to settle my mother's estate in a smooth fashion while making sure that all the parties were treated the way the estate documents specified. Julie made a stressful situation into an uneventful “routine” one. She accommodated the inconvenient schedules some of the parties had and her fees were very fair. And, she was a pleasure to work with." - Gary