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Lakewood, Colorado Elder Law And Estate Planning Law Blog

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.

What to think about when drafting an estate plan

Having an estate plan is a smart step for everyone, regardless of income level or a person's wealth. Taking the time to outline what you want to happen to your personal property is prudent and smart, allowing you more control over what will happen to your assets and the health care you may need in the future. If you have not made an estate plan, it is in your interests to consider doing so. 

The thought of drafting an estate plan may be daunting to you. What should you include in your plan? Do you need a trust? There are many important factors to consider, and it can be an overwhelming task. Before you begin, it may be helpful to learn more about estate planning and what you need to include to suit your individual needs.

Estate planning tactics after a divorce

When a Colorado resident gets divorced, he or she is going to want to review any estate planning documents that were put into place before the marriage ended. Doing so can make sure that a person and his or her former spouse's family are eliminated from the plan if necessary. Depending on the types of documents that are in place, an individual may need to review more than just a will.

For instance, life insurance policies and brokerage accounts often come with beneficiary designations. Those designations will need to be changed if a person no longer wishes for his or her spouse to inherit its cash value. If a spouse is named as the executor of a person's estate, this may need to be changed to reflect the changed relationship between the parties. If a spouse's family member is named as a guardian to a minor child, that may need to be changed as well.

How parents can help their children with estate planning

Some baby boomer parents in Colorado may be concerned about the estate planning failures of their children. In turn, their children may feel that they are simply struggling too much with debt and day-to-day issues to worry about it. One possible solution is for the parents to pay for their children's estate plan.

However, this offer must be made carefully. Parents should consider what approaches are less likely to trigger family drama or cause people to fall back into their old patterns. It might be best to bring up the idea in the context of an event like a family death or the birth of a child. It can also help to sit down to a family meeting with a third party participating, but children should not be blindsided by the idea. If parents appear to be trying to advance their own agendas, children may be less receptive.

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.

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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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