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Lakewood, Colorado Elder Law And Estate Planning Law Blog

It's never too early for an estate plan

Bringing a new baby home may have your head spinning. You may already have a nursery in place and well stocked, but it is not too late to think ahead for changes you must make. For example, although your child may not be crawling yet, it is a good idea to baby-proof the house to ensure the child's safety. You may be reading books about how to provide appropriate sensory stimulation for the child, and you may even be looking around for a quality daycare or preschool.

Planning ahead is important when you have children. However, there is one area of planning that many new parents overlook, and that is estate planning. You may be like many in Colorado who think of estate planning as something to do when you are nearing retirement, but having a child in your life is a powerful reason to begin the estate planning process.

Collectibles and estate planning

Personal property can introduce challenges to the process of estate planning. Such property could include valuable collectibles like antiques, art, coins, jewelry and more. One of the issues with personal property as part of an estate is that it can easily be forgotten, lost or taken by family members or others. Colorado residents with valuable collectibles may want to investigate options for tracking. There is software available for this.

Sharing inventory lists with family members, attorneys and other advisors can also help reduce the likelihood that these kinds of assets will go missing. Serial numbers and photographs are among the ways that items can be documented. Collectors may want to use safety deposit boxes, alarms or other methods to secure items. Insurance could provide added protection.

Creating trusts to help special needs children

Colorado parents who have children with special needs may want to consider certain estate planning tools. For many families, a trust is the right vehicle to provide for kids with special needs.

Wealthy families who know their children will not need to receive government benefits can simply create a trust that has enough funds. For example, a trustee can be placed in charge of a discretionary trust. The income and principal can be used to support the child.

Why long-term care is important for Colorado residents

Now that the baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age, long-term care is becoming a reality for more and more people. Some estimates say that as many as 70 percent of boomers will need long-term care at some point during their lives. Nursing care can run as much as $7,000 to $8,000 per month, and Medicare does not cover such costs.

Since planning for long-term care can be emotionally draining, however, many people simply choose to avoid it. Experts say that these procrastinators could be placing themselves and their families in financial jeopardy. This is because health care costs continue to rise, and that trend is expected to continue in the future.

Advantages of revocable trusts

Comprehensive estate plans in Colorado might include a will, powers of attorney, medical directive documents or other planning instruments. In many cases, having a revocable trust can lend benefits both to the person who makes it, called the grantor, and to his or her heirs. When the grantor of a trust dies, the trust can be written to live on indefinitely, carrying out the instructions of the grantor. Where the grantor is also the trustee, the trust should be written to provide a new trustee on the grantor's death.

The assets held in a revocable trust pass outside of probate on the death of the grantor. This is an advantage that can save significant time and money for heirs. It also allows the transfer of trust assets to remain private as property that is probated is made part of the public record. Many families who don't want the transfers made public use revocable trusts.

Understanding probate basics may help you get started

After your loved one's passing, you may have already known that you would take on the role of executor of the estate. If so, having this information in advance may have allowed you to gain some information on the duties you would have during the probate process. Still, you may not fully understand what probate will entail.

As the executor, you will have several responsibilities to address in order to ensure the correct settlement of your loved one's final affairs. Any mistake could prove costly during these proceedings, and you may find yourself having to contend with conflict nonetheless.

The necessity of an estate plan

Colorado residents who do not have any children or close relatives may feel that having an estate plan is not necessary. However, it is important for adults to have one, not only to specify what should happen to their assets when they die, but to also prepare for the unexpected while they are still alive.

Two important legal documents to have in an estate plan are a durable power of attorney for financial and legal decisions and an advance health care directive. Individuals can use these documents to ensure that someone they trust will be making those decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated. Without these documents on file, there are decisions that even a spouse will not have the authority to make. Additionally, in situations in which individuals are incapacitated without having completed the documents, it will be up to the courts to designate someone to make those determinations.

Estate planning for the digital era

Far too many Colorado residents have never made a will or any other part of an estate plan at all. Even those who have thought about the future may find that their plan needs updating for many reasons, from changes in their family structure to changes in the law. One change that could affect people's plans for the future is a shift to digital assets and online management of those accounts.

From cryptocurrency to digital photo albums, many precious possessions are held in cloud storage and accessible only through an online password. As a result, estate planning is changing, even as best practices may lag behind the ongoing technological developments.

The Cy Pres Doctrine and charitable trusts

Charitable trusts serve the dual function of being a valuable estate planning tool and a way to help those in need. At its core, a charitable trust is just a trust with a charitable purpose, but there are a few important differences that people need to consider before creating one. According to Colorado law, a charitable trust must benefit the community. This can include contributing to the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the promotion of heath, and even governmental or municipal purposes.

A few rules that apply to normal trusts don't apply to charitable ones. Because these trusts are intended for the general well-being of the community, they don't require clearly defined beneficiaries. Instead, the trust must have a clear purpose whether it's to fund local hospitals or provide food aid to the poor. Charitable trusts are also allowed to exist into perpetuity.

Estate planning checklist to distribute assets

Estate planning in Colorado is more than simply ensuring that assets will pass to the proper heirs. Anyone who has assets that they intend to leave to a loved one needs to have an estate plan in place. It can be helpful to think of the estate planning process as involving a checklist of items that should be addressed. Creating durable powers of attorney, ensuring beneficiaries are properly designated and establishing living trusts are all items that go on the checklist.

A durable power of attorney gives someone else, called the attorney-in-fact, the right to make decisions on the behalf of the principal. They can be designed to address issues with finances, property or health care. A durable power of attorney can help in a situation where, for example, a person owns valuable assets like stocks but he or she is incapacitated and has medical bills to pay. The attorney-in-fact may be able to sell the stocks on the person's behalf to cover the costs of medical care.

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Kaeble Law LLC

14142 Denver West Parkway
Suite 287
Lakewood, CO 80401

Phone: 720-370-9395
Fax: 303-847-0912
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