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Lakewood, Colorado Elder Law And Estate Planning Law Blog

Choosing the right executor

Colorado residents entering the estate planning process may wonder how they should choose an executor. An executor is the person who will carry out the instructions and wishes of the deceased, and he or she is usually chosen upon completion of a will. Deciding who will take on this important task can be difficult, but there are a few tips that might make it easier.

The first important tip in estate planning is to choose an executor who is in a good financial position. People with liens against them and individuals who have declared bankruptcy or have no credit history often cannot be bonded, which makes them poor options. Bonding is a form of insurance that serves the purpose of paying the beneficiaries if the executor takes all the estate funds for him or herself. If a bonding company feels someone is a risk, the court will likely not allow that person to be the executor.

Estate planning mistakes to avoid after divorce

According to UBS Global Wealth Management, 56 percent of married women leave financial decisions to their spouses. Therefore, women in Colorado and throughout the country who get divorced may find managing their money to be a difficult task. When ending a marriage, it is important to take an objective look at both short and long-term financial needs. This may include reviewing a will and making sure that a spouse is no longer listed as a beneficiary.

It can also be a good idea to take a second look at who would get the children in case of a parent's death. Ideally, it will be someone who a custodial parent is comfortable with, and it could be another family member or close friend. The only thing worse than failing to review an estate plan is to not have one at all. However, 60 percent of Americans surveyed in a Gallup poll admitted to having no will or estate plan in general.

Long-term care involves careful planning

While it is understandable to want to remain in your home as long as possible, according to some researchers, most people will need some form of long-term care as they age. Planning for this costly contingency can be challenging, and you may already be noticing signs that your parent will need care you cannot provide in the home.

Fortunately, long-term care no longer necessarily means a nursing home, where residents of all levels of health and ability live in the same environment. There are more and more options available, and that means a better chance of meeting your loved one's personal needs. Understanding the alternatives may help you determine the best way to prepare for this necessary expense.

Estate planning for education

Many people use an estate plan to set aside assets to fund an education for their descendants. Colorado residents can start planning for their loved ones' education by completing certain legal documents.

Terms can be included in a will to detail how certain assets should be applied to the education expenses for grandchildren. However, one issue individuals will have to address is the form of their bequest.

Charitable giving might convey tax benefits

Charitable giving can be an important part of a comprehensive Colorado estate plan. In addition to establishing a person's legacy after they've passed away, philanthropy may convey tax benefits to the estate or heirs. Regardless of the specific reasons for charitable giving, gifts can usually be readily incorporated into the estate plan by an attorney.

The first step is choosing which causes or organizations will benefit from the philanthropic donations. People who have histories of giving in the past might review their giving habits to make a decision. It can be helpful to think about which community issues are of concern to the person or family. Many estate owners also consider how certain gifts might impact a legacy.

How to prevent family conflicts over a will

One of the reasons Colorado residents draft wills is to prevent family conflicts over their wishes once they pass away from occurring. However, the mere presence of a will won't magically ensure that family squabbles won't arise. Careful planning is required to make sure that someone's estate plan is executed with minimal drama.

For example, estate planning experts say that it is essential to name the right executor of the will. While many people choose someone based on family hierarchy, such as the oldest child, it is more important to choose someone who is up to the challenge. This means that they should be ethical, responsible and organized. To this end, it may be advisable to appoint a corporate trustee or a professional fiduciary as the executor. Next, it is important to remember to include personal property in the will. Small things, such as holiday decorations or costume jewelry, can set off major fights. Experts say it's helpful for people to ask their children what personal items mean the most to them before writing the will.

Taxes and other reasons to have an estate plan

Some people in Colorado may be among the 42 percent of adults who said they did not have an estate plan in a survey conducted by Caring.com. While estate planning may be a difficult subject to address or some might think they do not need a plan because they have few assets, it can be important for everyone.

For wealthy individuals, estate planning can be important in minimizing various types of taxes. Wealthy people may also use an estate plan to set up charitable giving in the form of a family foundation or a trust. Frivolous lawsuits may be a danger for wealthy people, and they can set up trusts or other vehicles that will help protect their assets. They may also want to look into what protection can be offered by insurance. Another element of estate planning may be using it as an opportunity to talk to children about the family wealth and prepare them to inherit and manage it.

Choosing the most effective estate planning tools

If you are like many, you delayed creating an estate plan because it seemed complicated and expensive to do. When you finally decided that a plan was an important way to protect your assets and your loved ones, it is understandable that you would want to choose the simplest way to do so. Most people consider writing a will as the most basic estate planning step to take.

Writing a will may be a straightforward way to assign your assets to your loved ones, but it may not be the most effective way to protect your wealth or your beneficiaries. In many scenarios, a revocable trust may be a more prudent avenue for preparing your estate.

Estate planning is also important for young people

Despite widespread information about the importance of planning for the future, many adults in Colorado still do not have a will or other estate documents. People who are not married and do not have children may be some of the least likely to make an estate plan, and young people in general may see it as a task for the future. One survey found that 78 percent of millennials have not made a will. In many cases, people don't want to think about death or complicated familial relationships.

However, by creating a will, an individual can decide how they want their estate to be handled after death and potentially save their loved ones time and money. When estate owners die without a will, they are considered intestate, which gives state law priority in determining the future of the assets. In most cases, the estates of unmarried people without children will pass to their parents. However, people may want to protect long-term partners or other close relationships who are not part of the state's intestacy law.

Planning for digital assets in an estate plan

Colorado and many other states have passed laws that allow executors to manage digital assets just as they would other types of assets. However, people still need to take steps to ensure that executors and other loved ones are able to access the assets both legally and from a technology standpoint.

One expert says that instead of using a USB to store information such as key locations, passphrases, PINs and more, a pen and paper is the best way to record information. There should be two copies of the documents, and they should be kept with other estate planning information. These lists may need to be updated weekly if a person trades frequently. Once a year may be often enough for people who are less frequent traders. One probate judge has pointed out that the court system will need to get a more sophisticated understanding of cryptocurrency in the next few years.

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Lakewood, CO 80401

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